Reasons to Prune Trees and Shrubs

Pruning is a horticultural technique that signals the growth and form of a plant. Based on science and aesthetics, pruning is also preventive maintenance so that plants, shrubs, and trees can growth fully and healthily.  Most problems can be avoided by pruning correctly during the initial years for both trees and shrubs.

Reasons to Prune

There are many reasons to prune, including the following

  • Promotes healthy plant growth 
  • Removes stubs of branches
  • Removes branches that are rubbing or otherwise making contact with one another
  • Removes dying or dead material that may be caused by insects, storms, animals, disease, and other types of damage

Do not remove the top of a tree, or it’s crown  – this can cause health ussies and destroys the tree or shrubs’ natural shape, promoting unhealthy growth.  

Prune to enhance and maintain a plant, for the purpose of your landscape, including:

  • Promote fruit and flower growth
  • Maintain the density of shrubs
  • Maintain or enhance the plants’ form or shape, to meet your landscaping purpose

The appearance of your landscape is critical to the plants’ purpose and function.  For most homeowners, a plant’s natural form is best for the landscape.  Never cut shrubs into too tight of forms – this will adversely affect growth and flowerings.  Remember, when plants and trees are properly pruned, it is really impossible to see that, in fact, they have been pruned.  

There are additional reasons to prune, including some that go beyond the plant itself:

  • Maintain or otherwise control the plant’s shape and size
  • Maintain evergreens that function as shrubs dense and well-proportioned
  • Protect property or people, such as plants that can easily overgrow and/or have thorns or are otherwise hazardous
  • Trees that are overgrown and need to be removed – tree removal is expensive and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary
  • Dead branches, water shoots, and other unwanted growth
  • Eliminate narrow or weak branches that threaten the home and landscape
  • Any growth that interferes with property structures and their functions, such as street signs. traffic lights, walkways, etc.
  • Grown that obscures vision and safety associated with it
  • The growth that could affect your safety, in terms of obscuring the entrance of your home
  • Planting time is the best time to begin your pruning regime

The Best Time to Prune

Immature trees that are pruned improperly (or not at all) will necessitate years of heavy pruning to correct issues that have developed over time.  And, when planting remove all broken or dead branches, which will begin the tree’s growth off to a good and healthy start.   Also, prune immature trees to promote shapely growth, but remember to not cut back the leader starts.

Pruning is one of the best things a hobbyist landscaper or homeowner can do for both young and old plants and trees.   Done correctly, pruning can provide years of enjoyment you get out of your individual trees and shrubs as well as your overall landscape.  Done incorrectly, it can equally lead to years of unhealthy and unsightly trees, shrubs, and landscaping.  Finally, remember the best time to prune is in late winter, early spring, and when you plant new trees and shrubs.  These are the times when the plants are just beginning to grow and will benefit the most from this landscaping maintenance task.