Pruning and Shaping

Typical Above-Ground Tree Framework

Always hire a professional whenever your deciduous trees need pruning and spotting. Just one bad pruning job can turn a beautiful tree into an ugly mess that will never grow the proper way again. We have all seen when a pruning job has gone seriously wrong. You know, that poor tree—someone just started hacking away at it until it was reduced to stubs!

When it comes to pruning and shaving, I always have the customer on site, so there are no surprises. There are many different levels of pruning that can be done on the average tree. Sometimes just going through and removing the dead wood is all that is needed; other times it’s thinning out branches to reduce the top weight of the tree; and in other instances, it will be a complete trimming of the entire tree that must be done.

Most of the time, I get a call from a customer only after a tree has been overdue for some attention. Usually it’s a mess of limbs growing in every direction, or even worse, it was reduced to stubs earlier in life and had limbs with weak branch union. A weak branch union is caused when a large scaffold branch is cut and, after a few years, multiple branches have grown in its place. Since they were not part of the tree when it was young, they will normally break off in time because they are not anchored to the tree.

So the best way to prune and shape a tree is to never hedge or cut it. A hedge cut is when the branches are cut half way up the limb. This not only sets the tree up to have abnormal growth and weak branch union, but its natural beauty is lost for the life of the tree.

A Guide to Successful Pruning, Pruning Deciduous Trees: Publications and Educational Resources, Virginia Tech

A Guide to Successful Pruning, Pruning Evergreen Trees: Publications and Educational Resources, Virginia Tech

10 Bad Things We Do to Our Trees

The correct way to cut hedges (STIHL) in reference to cutting a tree