Pruning Your Trees for Strength, Structure and Form

Pruning your tree is a double-edged sword. If done properly it can improve a tree’s health, form, structure and safety. But if it is done improperly (without an understanding of tree biology) it can be the worst thing you can do for your tree, causing stress, declining health, internal decay, un-safe conditions, and sometimes tree death. It all depends on how much you prune, and the types of cuts you make, or the professional you hire.

Learn How to Prune Properly:

There are some excellent publications and resources that will help you learn:

how to make proper pruning cuts

the reasons to prune

what season is best for pruning and when shouldn’t we prune trees

how to prevent internal decay

how to improve a tree’s form and structure

how much can be pruned without harming the tree

when should I find a professional to prune my trees

how to find a professional – ISA Certified Arborist

Resources to Learn How to Properly Prune Trees

Pruning Landscape Trees a Penn State University publication

Pruning Ornamentals a Penn State University publication (the printed version of this 24 page book costs $4.00)


How to Prune Trees a USDA Forest Service publication

Tree Pruning Website an excellent Tree Pruning website developed by Dr. Ed Gilman, author of “An Illustrated Guide to Pruning” and Horticopia Expert Notes – Illustrated Pruning and Planting

National Arbor Day Foundation Pruning Website an interactive website that allows you to test your tree pruning skills and knowledge. Give it a try!

Pruning Young Trees – Information from the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) on Pruning Young Trees

Pruning Mature Trees – Information from the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) on Pruning Mature Trees

Don’t Top Trees – Urban Tree Foundation Tree Topping Website

Download a Presentation on Tree Pruning from Penn State Extension

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