Pruning Trees + Shrubs Series: Ornamental Trees

December and January are both good months to trim or prune ornamental trees.  The trees are in a dormant state and without the leaves it is much easier to identify which branches should be pruned. Regardless of the type of tree you have there are some basic pruning techniques that apply to all. 


  • Cut any broken, dead or deformed branches.

Look at the bottom and inside of the tree – deadwood is prone to occur in shaded areas of a tree.


    • Cut crossing branches.


Look for branches that rub against each other or are removing the bark of a neighboring limb.  Determine which limb should stay and which should go.


  • Cut crazy branches. 

Remove branches growing inward or straight up through the middle of the tree.


  • Thin parallel branches.

When 2 or more branches are growing next to each other in the same direction remove 1 of them so the other can become a stronger limb.



  • Do not cut off tips. 

This results in unhealthy growth at the ends of limbs and creates an awkward look to the tree.  


  • Step Back And Look At The Tree.

Look at the tree from all sides and underneath.  I find it useful to have someone help when pruning – have them stand back and look at the tree to help you identify the best limbs to remove.


Proper tools for pruning are bypass pruners, hand size and larger, tree saw hand held or pole variety for taller trees.

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