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The Ultimate Tree Pruning Guide

Maximise Your Landscape’s Potential With This Tree Pruning Guide

Tree pruning is an essential part of maintaining a healthy and aesthetically pleasing garden. Pruning is more than just cutting back trees and shrubs so they look good, as it also contributes to the health of the tree and helps it thrive.

This is why pruning needs to be a part of your regular maintenance routine and something that you pay particular attention to. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting, understanding the basics of tree pruning can make a significant difference in the health and appearance of your trees, as well as your landscape as a whole.

Tree pruning can seem complicated to those with limited experience with it, but it does not have to be. At Avery Gardens, we have over 20 years of experience in grounds and garden maintenance, including tree pruning. Using this experience, we have crafted this ultimate tree pruning guide to help you get the most out of your landscapes.

In this comprehensive tree pruning guide, we will explore what trees need pruning when to prune them, and the best practices to follow so you can maintain a healthy, attractive garden all year round.

Why Is Tree Pruning Important?

This tree pruning guide would not be complete without an understanding of why tree pruning is so important in the first place. Without this understanding, you may not give your trees the attention they deserve nor be willing to pay for professional help.

Tree pruning is essential, and there are many reasons for this. In fact, tree pruning can be one of the most important maintenance routines you do for your landscape.

Pruning trees is not just about keeping your garden looking neat, although this is a major benefit, as it’s also crucial for the health and longevity of your trees.

This is because proper tree pruning removes dead or diseased branches and encourages new growth in its place. Likewise, this regular pruning of dead or diseased branches can improve airflow and light penetration across the tree, aiding in its ongoing health.

With these diseased branches removed, you actively prevent the spread of diseases throughout the tree as well as reducing the risk of falling branches and enhancing the overall structure and strength of the tree.

The Best Time For Tree Pruning Guide

Timing is everything when it comes to tree pruning. Each tree species has its own unique needs and pruning them at the wrong time can cause more harm than good.

As different tree pruning routines need to be followed throughout the year, many people find this task overwhelming and are not sure what to do for the health of their landscaping.

This is why we have created this best time for tree pruning guide, to help you understand the needs of your landscape more and plan for the necessary maintenance it will require throughout the year. This seasonal tree pruning guide will help you determine the best time to prune various types of trees, for example:

Winter Tree Pruning Guide

Most deciduous trees are best pruned during their dormant season, which is late winter. Pruning these trees during the winter reduces the risk of disease and pest infestation, allowing the trees to thrive for the rest of the year.

When pruning during the winter, leaves will be absent, which makes it easier to see the tree’s structure. With a clearer sight of the tree’s structure, you can make more precise cuts.

Trees like maples, oaks, and apples benefit greatly from winter pruning as it encourage robust growth in the spring where they thrive.

Spring Tree Pruning Guide

Spring tree pruning is suitable for trees that bloom in the summer or later. Pruning in early spring, just before the buds on these trees break, allows you to shape the tree precisely and remove any winter damage that may be present, such as broken branches or diseased leaves.

It is important to note for a successful spring tree pruning guide, that this should not be done on species that bloom in early spring. Avoid pruning trees like cheery and magnolia during this time, as these both bloom in early spring and late pruning can reduce their flowering.

Summer Tree Pruning Guide

Following our summer tree pruning guide can help control the growth of certain trees and address any issues that have become apparent during the growing season.

This is why summer is the ideal pruning season for trees such as birch and walnuts, as these can bleed sap if they are pruned too early in the winter.

Summer tree pruning can also help manage trees that have become too large or are interfering with structures or power lines across the landscape as they bloom to their full capacity.

Autumn Tree Pruning Guide

Finally for this seasonal tree pruning guide comes the worst month – autumn. Autumn is generally not recommended for tree pruning.

This is because there is a higher risk of disease when pruning during the autumn, as any wounds will heal slowly during this season. Likewise, pruning can stimulate new growth and when done during the winter these new branches may not have time to harden before the winter and are more susceptible to disease and damage.

Although it is generally not advised to do any major tree pruning during the autumn, some light pruning to remove dead or hazardous branches can be done if necessary to keep the tree safe and looking good.

Tree Pruning Guide For Different Types

As our seasonal tree pruning guide explained, different tree types require their own routines to aid their growth and health.

As well as understanding when is the best time to prune different types of trees, it is a good idea to learn more about the different species which may be present across your landscape and the kind of care they need. Understanding the specific needs of different tree species is key to effective pruning.

Here’s a closer look at how to prune some common types of trees:

Deciduous Trees

Deciduous trees, such as oaks, maples, and birches, shed their leaves annually and enter a dormant phase during the winter. This is why pruning these trees in late winter or early spring before new growth begins is ideal.

When pruning these types of trees, focus on removing dead, diseased, or crossing branches for the healthiest growth. During pruning, also aim to maintain the natural shape of the tree as this promotes good air circulation.

Evergreen Trees

Evergreen trees, including pines, spruces, and firs, retain their foliage year-round which is why they require less frequent pruning than other types.

However, although evergreen trees may require less pruning this does not mean the task can be avoided completely. When pruning evergreen trees for health and shape, it is best to do this in either late winter or early spring before any new growth begins in earnest.

When pruning evergreen trees, remove only the damaged or dead branches to avoid stressing the tree and harming any future growth. Similarly, avoid heavy pruning as this can lead to sparse growth and an unattractive appearance in the spring.

Fruit Trees

Fruit trees, such as those which grow apples, pears, and cherries, benefit from regular pruning to enhance fruit production and maintain tree health.

Prune these trees in late winter while they are still dormant, as this makes it easier to cut branches precisely and ensures the tree is in optimal health ahead of the blooming spring season. When pruning fruit trees, focus on creating an open canopy that allows sunlight to reach the fruit-bearing branches so they can grow healthily.

Take the time to also remove any suckers, water sprouts, and branches that are growing inward or crossing over the tree as these can hinder the growth and the health of the fruit.

Flowering Trees

Flowering trees, like dogwood, magnolia, and redbud, should be pruned based on their blooming cycle which can vary with each type.

The trees that bloom in early spring should be pruned immediately after flowering to avoid removing the buds for the next year. This ensures that their next cycle will be just as, if not more, beautiful than the current one and more healthy.

For trees that bloom in the summer or later, prune them in late winter or early spring before new growth begins for optimal growth and health.

Best Practices For Tree Pruning Guide

Proper pruning techniques are essential to ensure the health and safety of your trees. This is not a task you can go into unprepared, nor is it something you should handle on your own if you have no experience.

Due to how vital tree pruning is for the health, safety and beauty of your landscape, the best practices need to be followed. These include:

Use The Right Tools

When tree pruning, it is essential that you are using the right tools for the job. Standard gardening tools are often not strong enough for tree pruning, and instead, you will need to invest in high-quality pruning tools, such as hand pruners, loppers, and a pruning saw.

Before using these to prune trees, remove dead branches and shape the foliage you need to ensure they are sharp and clean. This allows you to make precise cuts in the tree, and reduce the risk of disease transmission throughout the process.

Make Clean Cuts

With clean and sharp tools, it will be easier to make precise cuts. During tree pruning, you need to make clean cuts to all branches – just outside the branch collar, which is the swollen area where the branch attaches to the trunk.

Cutting this close avoids leaving any other damaged or diseased branch behind, which can continue to cause issues for the tree. When cutting, also make sure you avoid leaving stubs behind as these can become entry points for pests and diseases.

Don’t Over-Prune

It may be tempting to remove a lot of growth at once, but over-pruning can stress the tree and lead to weak growth.

Cutting lots off the tree at once does not mean you are getting the job done any more efficiently and, in fact, maybe make things worse for yourself and your landscape in the future.

When pruning, follow the rule of never removing more than 25% of the tree’s canopy in a single year. With this, you can ensure gradual, consistent pruning which is better for the tree’s health.

Consider Tree Health and Safety

Before making any cuts, assess the tree’s overall health and structure to ensure you are going to be safe during the process.

The first step to any tree pruning is to remove any dead, diseased, or damaged branches, as these are most likely to cause health and safety issues.

You should look for branches that may pose a safety risk during the process, such as those growing too close to power lines or structures, and remove them carefully before moving on to shaping and styling the tree.

Hire a Professional Arborist

If you’re unsure about how to prune a tree or if the tree requires significant pruning, consider hiring a professional arborist. Arborists and tree surgeons have the expertise and equipment to prune trees safely and effectively, ensuring the long-term health and beauty of your landscape.

At Avery Gardens, we have over 20 years of experience in garden maintenance and provide a range of pruning services including tree surgery. We can help transform your landscape through ongoing maintenance, ensuring it thrives.


Tree pruning is a vital aspect of grounds maintenance that promotes the health, safety, and aesthetic appeal of trees. By understanding the best times to prune and following proper techniques, you can ensure your trees thrive and continue to be a focal point in your landscape for years to come.

A well-pruned tree is not only a beautiful addition to your landscape, but also a testament to your commitment to care as it shows regular maintenance is performed.

Contact Us Today

For more expert tips and advice on tree care, or to schedule a consultation with one of our professional arborists, contact us today.

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