Fall Pruning Tips: How and When to Prune Trees


Keeping up with your yard work on a yearly basis is key to a beautiful lawn and landscape. And knowing when to perform those tasks is even more essential to the health of your yard.

One task that homeowners need to perform annually is pruning trees. Pruning trees not only improves plant health and overall aesthetics but also reduces the amount of dead or brittle branches, enriches tree structure and manages fruit or flower production.

Take advantage of the cool fall weather this season to prune your trees. Before you begin pruning, here are questions to ask yourself.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Pruning Trees

Before you start thinking about when to prune trees, making sure you have the right tools for whatever job you’re doing is essential! If you plan to just prune back a few smaller branches or cut back a few perennial plants, a good pair of by-pass pruning shears will do the trick. If you plan to prune branches that are between ½ to 3 inches in diameter, then a pair of loppers is needed. Anything larger than 3 inches should be pruned with a good, sharp pruning saw.

What are you trying to accomplish?

Knowing exactly what you’re trying to accomplish before you begin is a step that should not be overlooked. Are you trying to control the size or shape? Are you pruning to remove limbs that are growing too low or pose a safety concern? Have a game plan ready to go that outlines what trees you need to tackle in your yard and what you want them to look like in the end.

Do you have the right tools?

After all, you can’t prune trees without the proper tools.

If you plan to cut back a few perennial plants or smaller tree branches, use a quality pair of by-pass pruning shears. Branches that are between ½ to 3 inches in diameter will require a pair of loppers. Anything larger than 3 inches needs a sharp pruning saw.

What will you do with the yard waste?

Depending on where you live, there may be a brush pick-up service that will haul away branches and other brush. This may come at an extra charge or be included in your monthly expenses. There may also be a set timeframe on when you can have them removed. Some cities may have rules and regulations homeowners must follow when using waste services, so be sure to research yard waste removal in your city before beginning.

How to Prune Trees

Most of the pruning you do will help the tree grow healthier and maintain a better form. First, look for branches that are crossing each other or are growing into the middle of the tree. Second, find dead branches and twigs. These are the types of branches you will want to remove first.

When making the cut, do not cut in the middle of the branch. Prune just above a growth point, like near a bud, stem or branch. The cut should be made at a 30-to-45-degree angle. Be sure not to cut too much on an angle, too high or directly on top of the bud. The end of the branch will not produce new growth, and eventually, it will die, leaving it open for invasion of wood-decaying organisms.

What if my tree needs major pruning?

If your trees need major pruning, or you are unsure of what needs to be pruned, contact a licensed arborist to assist.

What other ways can I keep my lawn and landscape healthy?

Aside from yearly pruning, it’s important to fertilize your trees and shrubs to provide essential nutrients and protect them from disease-causing insects. At Spring Green, we want to help your lawn look and feel its best so that you can enjoy your yard without worry. Contact us today to learn about the services in your area.