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  • Prune at the right time of year.  Trees and shrubs that flower before June, usually on the previous years wood, should be pruned after they have flowered.  Trees and shrubs that flower after June, usually on new growth, can be pruned in spring.
  •  Use the correct tool for the size of branch to be removed:  hand pruners (secateurs), for growth up to ¾” (2cm) in diameter; long-handled loppers for growth up to 1 ½ “ (4cm) in diameter; or a pruning saw for growth up to about 6” (15cm) in diameter.
  • Always use clean, sharp tools.
  •  Always use hand pruners (secateurs)or loppers with the blade side towards the plant and the hook towards the part to be removed.


  •  Don't leave stubs.  Whether you are cutting off a large branch or dead heading a lilac, always cut back to a join.  Branches should be removed to the branch collar, and smaller growth should be cut back to a bud or branch union.  There is no absolute set angle for pruning, but generally a 45 degree angle is preferable.  Each plant should be pruned according to its individual needs.
  • Never use pruning paint or paste.  Trees have a natural ability to create a barrier between lining and dead wood.  Painting over a cut impairs this ability. 
  •  Avoid cutting off the top of a tree, or topping.  Topping is not good for a tree's overall health.  It also causes a tree to send out to many side shoots at the top.

Thanks to ISA -Internation Society of Arboriculture

Pruning Terms


When ordering you pruning needs, it helps to use the proper pruning terms.  Our staff includes certified arborists that are only too glad to help you determine your pruning needs.


CROWN above ground portions of a tree, consisting of trunk, branches and leaves.

BRANCH a secondary shoot or stem arising from one of the main axis (i.e. trunk or leader) of a tree.

LATERAL a side branch or twig.

LEADER a dominant upright stem, usually the main trunk.

WATER SPROUT a vigorous shoot arising from the aboveground portion of a tree or above the graft union.

SUCKER a vigorous shoot arising at or below the graft union.

GIRDLING ROOTS roots located above or below ground level whose circular growth around the base of the trunk or over individual roots that applies pressure to the bark area, thereby choking or restricting the flow of sap.

PRUNING removal of unwanted parts of the plant.

CROWN CLEANING removal of dead, dying, diseased or weakly attached branches from the tree crown.

CROWN THINNING the removal of branches to let in light, reduce wind resistance, remove unwanted branches, or to retain trees natural shape, also including crown cleaning.

CROWN RAISING the removal of lower branches for under-clearance.

CROWN REDUCTION pruning a branch or branches back to a lateral large enough to assume dominance and maintain symmetry.

CROWN RESTORATION-restoring natural growth habit of a tree that has been previously damaged by incorrect pruning or natural causes.

INTERNODAL TOPPING or HEADING the severe reduction of branches without consideration of plant form or health. (Not a recommended practice)

POLLARDING a training process that involves severe topping or heading the first year, and sprout removal annually or every few years.

VISTA PRUNING pruning for a view from a pre-determined point.