The Ultimate Guide to Tree Pruning

Our Comprehensive Tree Pruning Guide For All Seasons

Tree pruning is a critical part of maintaining a beautiful and healthy garden. It is more than just cutting back branches to achieve an aesthetically pleasing result, as pruning also contributes to a tree’s health and longevity.

With all the benefits tree pruning can provide, it should be embedded within your regular maintenance schedule and warrants your close attention to support the future of your landscape.  Regardless of whether you’re a skilled gardener or a beginner, a basic grasp of tree pruning can immensely impact the health and appearance of your overall landscape.

At Kneebone Trees, we have over a decade of experience in tree surgery and services, including tree pruning. Leveraging this experience, we have designed this exhaustive tree pruning guide to help maximise your landscape’s potential and support the health of trees in your garden.

Why Is Tree Pruning Essential?

Tree pruning is essential for a number of reasons, and could be considered as one of the more important maintenance obligations for your landscape because of this.

Understanding why tree pruning is essential allows you to provide the proper care for your landscape and become more willing to invest in the necessary professional support for a thriving outdoor space.

Despite common misconceptions, pruning trees is not just about maintaining the aesthetics of your garden. Although pruning trees does contribute to a well-maintained garden design and makes the landscape look better, it is also fundamental to your trees’ health and longevity.

Pruning removes dead or diseased branches, encouraging new, healthy growth. By removing diseased branches, you prevent the further spread of diseases within the tree. This removal of branches reduces the risk of falling branches by enhancing the tree’s overall structure and strength. Regular pruning also improves air and light penetration across the tree, fostering its ongoing health.

Essentially, tree pruning is vital to support the health of your landscape and maintain thriving trees.

What Is The Best Time for Pruning? Our Tree Pruning Guide

Timing is paramount in tree pruning as every tree species has unique needs, and pruning at the wrong time can be detrimental.

Tree pruning schedules vary throughout the year, which can seem daunting at first. Understanding what is best for your landscape’s health is vital if you want to prolong its beauty and strength, which is why we have formulated this optimum time for tree pruning guide.

With this part of our tree pruning guide, we can help you get a better understanding of your landscape’s needs and plan the necessary maintenance throughout the year to support this. This seasonal guide will assist you in determining the best time to prune various types of trees, such as:

Winter Tree Pruning Guide

Most deciduous trees are ideally pruned during their dormant season, which is late winter. This applies to trees like maples, oaks, and apples.

Pruning these trees in winter minimises the risk of disease and pest infestation, allowing the trees to prosper for the rest of the year. Winter pruning also offers a clear view of the tree’s structure due to leaf absence, facilitating precise cuts.

These trees benefit greatly from winter pruning as it encourages robust growth in the spring where they thrive.

Spring Tree Pruning Guide

Spring tree pruning is appropriate for trees that bloom in the summer or later. Early spring pruning, just before the buds break on these trees, allows for precise shaping and removal of any winter damage such as broken branches or diseased leaves.

Do not prune early spring flowering species for a successful spring tree pruning. Cherry and magnolia trees, for instance, should be avoided during this time due to their early spring blooming pattern. Late pruning can compromise their flowering and therefore ruin the design of your overall landscape.

Summer Tree Pruning Guide

Our summer tree pruning guide can help regulate the growth of certain trees and address any issues apparent during the growing season. Summer is the perfect pruning season for trees like birch and walnut, which can bleed sap if pruned too early in winter.

Summer tree pruning can also help control trees that have grown too large or obstruct structures or power lines across the landscape as they reach their maximum growth during this season.

Autumn Tree Pruning Guide

Autumn is generally not advised for tree pruning, because pruning during autumn increases the risk of disease, as wounds heal slowly during this season.

Furthermore, pruning can instigate new growth, which may not harden before winter, making the trees more prone to disease and damage.

While significant pruning is not recommended during autumn, light pruning to remove dead or hazardous branches can be performed, if necessary. This light tree pruning guide can be used to maintain the tree’s safety and aesthetics as the season progresses.

Tree Pruning Guide for Different Types Of Trees

As our seasonal tree pruning guide explains, different tree types require specific types of pruning to foster their growth and health. Knowing the best time to prune different types of trees is beneficial, as is understanding the different types of trees you have present across your landscape and what they need.

Recognising the specific needs of various tree species is crucial for effective pruning and allows you to take effective care of your landscape, no matter the season.

Deciduous Tree Pruning Guide

Deciduous trees, such as oaks, maples, and birches, shed their leaves annually and enter a dormant phase during winter. This is why late winter or early spring pruning is ideal, as this will take place before new growth begins.

When pruning these types of trees, focus on eliminating dead, diseased, or crossing branches for healthier growth. During pruning, aim to maintain the tree’s natural shape to promote good air circulation and support lasting health.

Evergreen Tree Pruning Guide

Evergreen trees, including pines, spruces, and firs, retain their foliage year-round which is why they require less frequent pruning than other types.

Evergreen trees do still require some light pruning, for health and shape. When pruning evergreen trees, it is best to do it in late winter or early spring as this allows you to prune the tree before significant new growth begins.

During pruning, remove only the damaged or dead branches to avoid stressing the tree and harming any future growth. Likewise, heavy pruning of evergreen trees should be avoided as it can lead to sparse growth and an unattractive appearance in spring.

Fruit Tree Pruning Guide

Fruit trees, like apple, pear, and cherry trees, benefit from regular pruning to amplify fruit production and maintain tree health.

Prune these trees in late winter while they are still dormant to easily make precise cuts and ensure the tree is in peak health for the blooming spring season. Focus on creating an open canopy when pruning fruit trees to allow sunlight to reach the fruit-bearing branches to foster healthy growth.

When pruning these trees, also ensure to remove any suckers, water sprouts, and branches growing inward or crossing over the tree as these can compromise growth and overall fruit health.

Flowering Tree Pruning Guide

Flowering trees, like dogwood, magnolia, and redbud, should be pruned based on their blooming cycle.

Trees blooming in early spring should be pruned immediately after flowering to avoid removing next year’s buds. This ensures their next cycle is even more beautiful and healthier than the current one.

For trees blooming in summer or later, prune them in late winter or early spring before new growth begins for optimal growth and health.

Best Practices for Tree Pruning Guide

Correct pruning techniques are essential for the health and safety of your trees. It’s not a task to be taken lightly or conducted without experience, as this can damage your landscape permanently.

Due to the importance of tree pruning for the health, safety, and beauty of your landscape, best practices must be followed. These include:

Use the Right Tools

It’s vital to use the right tools for tree pruning to keep the process neat and maintain health and safety standards. Standard gardening tools often lack the strength required for successful tree pruning, which is why they should be avoided for these tasks.

Instead, invest in high-quality tree pruning tools, such as hand pruners, loppers, and a pruning saw as these will make the task easier. Before using these professional tools, make sure they are sharp and clean as this allows you to make clean cuts and precise shaping as well as prevent the spread of disease.

Make Clean Cuts

Sharp, clean tools facilitate precise cuts and this is the best practice for tree pruning. When cutting branches from trees during pruning, ensure you are performing clean cuts. Remove branches by cutting just outside the branch collar, which is the swollen area where the branch connects to the trunk.

Close cuts like this prevent leaving any of the branches behind, and in the case of disease, branches prevent the infection from spreading further throughout the tree. During pruning, also avoid leaving stubs as they can become entry points for pests and diseases.

Avoid Over-Pruning

Though it might be tempting to remove significant growth at once, over-pruning can stress the tree and result in weak growth. When pruning, you should adhere to the rule of never removing more than 25% of the tree’s canopy in a single year for the tree’s best health.

Consider Tree Health and Safety

Before any cuts, assess the tree’s overall health and structure to ensure your safety. The first step in tree pruning is to remove any dead, diseased, or damaged branches as these are most likely to cause health and safety issues. This means these branches need to first be identified before you can focus on removing them securely.

As well as removing diseased or damaged branches, look for branches that may pose a safety risk. Branches growing too close to power lines or structures should be removed carefully before you can move on to styling and shaping the tree.

Hire a Professional Arborist

If you’re unsure about how to prune a tree or if the tree requires substantial pruning, consider hiring a professional arborist.

This is often the best practice for tree pruning overall, as arborists and tree surgeons possess the expertise and equipment to prune trees safely and effectively. Working with these professionals will ensure the landscape’s long-term health and beauty.

At Kneebone Trees, we have over 20 years of experience in tree services and offer a variety of pruning services, including tree pruning, and stump removal. We can enhance your landscape through our tree pruning, providing a manicured and safe environment.


Tree pruning is a fundamental aspect of grounds maintenance that enhances health, safety, and aesthetic appeal of trees. With a clear understanding of the best times to prune trees and the proper techniques to do this, you can ensure your trees flourish throughout the year.

A well-pruned tree is not just a beautiful supplement to your landscape, but also a reflection of your commitment to care which is why tree pruning is so valuable.

Contact Us Today

For more expert tips and advice on tree pruning, or other tree services, please contact us today.


Contact Us Today

other blogs


What Our customers say


Some of our Current clients

Contact us

Fill in your details below and our team will be in touch.