Woman gardener cutting branches of fruit tree with pruning shears

Learn How to Prune a Tree in Two Minutes

By the Mercury Team

Pruning trees may not be high on anyone’s weekend household chores list, but it’s an essential task to cross off your maintenance to-do list to keep your trees strong and healthy. Not only does pruning help a tree look its best, but a well-kept tree can protect your home against wildfires. Here, we'll explain tree pruning, the best time to do it, and how to do it correctly.

What Is Tree Pruning?

Tree pruning is the process of selectively removing certain parts of a tree, such as branches, buds, or roots. There are several reasons why you should prune your trees:

  • It removes branches that are either dead, diseased, or infested. By pruning your tree, you can prevent the issue from spreading to the rest of the tree.
  • It protects your home, powerlines, and neighboring plants. Overgrown or weak branches can fall during storms or even under the weight of their own growth.
  • It helps with wildfire prevention and control. Dead branches make great fuel for wildfires, and overgrown trees can quickly spread to neighboring trees and plants, so pruning helps reduce these risks.
  • It helps control the size and growth direction of a tree. This can be important in urban areas where you may need to limit a tree's growth.
  • It helps maintain the tree's natural look, improving your home's curb appeal.
  • For fruit trees, pruning can help improve the crop’s size and quality.

When to Prune Trees?

The best time to prune a tree depends on the type of tree. Coniferous trees, such as pine and spruce trees, should be pruned between late winter and early spring. Deciduous trees, which lose leaves and go dormant in cold temperatures, should be trimmed in the winter. However, if you notice dead or damaged wood clinging to the tree, it’s best to remove it as soon as possible, regardless of the season.

How to Prune a Tree

When it comes to pruning trees, having the right tools is important. The tools you use depends on the tree type, the branch thickness, where the branch is located on the tree, and the height of the branches being cut. Generally, you’ll need these tools:

  • Hand pruners: Ideal for small branches up to 1 inch in diameter.
  • Lopping shears: For branches 1 to 2 inches in diameter.
  • Pruning saw: For larger branches over 2 inches in diameter.
  • Pole pruner: For high branches that are hard to reach.
  • Safety equipment: This includes gloves, protective eyewear, and sturdy footwear.

How to Prune Tree Branches

  1. Locate the major branch skeleton of the tree. These are important to the tree’s integrity, so avoid removing these branches.
  2. Cut the underside of the branch. The cut shouldn’t go all the way through. This cut helps prevent the branch from cracking too close to the trunk.
  3. Then, you’ll make a second cut on the other side of the branch. This cut should be a few inches from the initial cut. This cut should go all the way through and will cause a stub to remain.
  4. Make a precise cut to remove the stub.

If the job is more extensive than you can handle or involves climbing, contact a tree-trimming service or landscaping professional.


Pruning your trees will keep them healthy, add value to your property, and help reduce the risk of wildfires and property damage. However, accidents and disasters can happen, so you want to make sure you have proper homeowners insurance to protect your family and home. If you’re looking for best-in-class coverage at an affordable rate, look no further than Mercury. Speak with a local agent, and they customize a policy that fits your needs and budget.

Contact us today for a fast, free quote!

FAQs About Tree Pruning

Why is it important to prune trees?

Tree pruning helps keep your tree healthy and prevents overgrowth by removing dead or excess branches. Pruning trees can also help in wildfire prevention and control. Wildfires need fuel to spread, and overgrown trees can provide that fuel. By pruning trees and removing dead or excess branches, you can significantly reduce the amount of potential fuel for a fire.

What is the difference between tree trimming and pruning?

While tree trimming and pruning are used interchangeably, they have subtle differences. Tree pruning focuses more on the tree's health, safety, and surroundings, while tree trimming is generally associated with grooming and maintaining the tree's aesthetic appearance.

Mercury Team

The Mercury Marketing Team is made up of professionals in the fields of Content Creation, Public Relations and Social Media. The team works together to deliver professionally written and researched content to provide information for consumers.

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