There are a lot of reasons people prune trees. We prune to
clear trees from structures, the yard, or other plants. We
prune to “train” them for long-term structural stability. We
prune for aesthetics, we prune for “vistas” or views. We
prune for safety.
Regardless of the reason we
are pruning a tree, there are certain standards that are
universal. The first is the ANSI A300 Standards. These
provide a common “language” for pruning. These standards
discuss what constitutes a proper pruning cut, how much
foliage should be removed in any one pruning cycle, and
provide a way to compare “apples to apples” when looking at
The second set of standards
is the ANSI Z-133.1. These standards specify how the
pruning is done, in terms of personal protective gear,
allowable practices, and work procedures. This is the set of
standards that is most often violated in our industry. If you
see a tree crew without hard-hats, eye protection, ear
protection or chainsaw protection, realize you are seeing an
accident waiting to happen!
It’s often said that good
tree pruning is as much art as science, and it’s true. A
well-trimmed tree should be a lot like a good hair cut. It
should look neat and tidy, but not “just done”. We also like
to joke that, “Not everyone knows what a good trim job looks
like, but everyone knows what a good clean-up looks
It’s our goal to leave every
yard at least as nice as we found it, if not better.
Pruning young trees is a
particular art. To do it properly, one must know what that
species of tree can eventually become. One should not prune a
redbud the same as one would prune a white oak. The redbud
may grow to 20 feet, and the white oak to 80 feet. Certainly
the spacing of limbs on the two would not be the same.
One should not prune them the same, then.
The pruning done on a tree in
the first ten years of its life may well dictate its
longevity. Structural defects not removed then will
oftentimes condemn them down the road.
When pruning a young tree
that is destined to become a large tree, it’s important to
keep in mind that the majority of the limbs present at
5 years of age are actually temporary limbs. These
limbs will not be on the tree in 10 more years. These trees
are pruned differently than those that have the majority of
permanent limbs already established.
Certified Arborists and Board
Certified Master Arborists are specialists at determining how
best to prune your trees to achieve your specific