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Improper Pruning Techniques

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11 May,2024

Improper Pruning Techniques

Improper Pruning Techniques

Tree pruning is an essential practice for maintaining health, aesthetics, and functionality. When done correctly, pruning can promote growth, improve structure, and prevent disease. However, improper tree pruning techniques can harm plant health and vitality. As a trusted tree care company, Southern Star Tree leverages innovative equipment and proven strategies to ensure safe and effective pruning. Let’s common mistakes in tree trimming or pruning and how to avoid them.


Topping, or hat-racking, is arguably one of the most harmful tree pruning practices. This involves cutting off the tops of trees extensively, often to reduce height. However, topping causes the loss of the tree’s natural form and unstable growth. It also exposes the tree to pests, diseases, and decay. Instead of topping, tree service experts recommend selective pruning to maintain the tree’s structural 

Lion’s Tailing

Another tree pruning mistake to avoid is lion’s tailing, which is characterized by the removal of inner branches and foliage, leaving only a tuft of foliage at the end of branches. This creates an imbalanced canopy and reduces the tree’s ability to photosynthesize effectively. It also increases the risk of branch failure, especially during storms. Arborists usually focus on maintaining a balanced canopy by selectively removing branches to improve airflow and light penetration.

Flush Cutting

Flush cutting involves cutting branches flush with the trunk or parent branch. While it may seem like a tidy solution, this practice damages the branch collar and bark ridge, compromising wound closure and risking premature tree removal emergencies. You can avoid these issues by hiring a tree care company to handle tree trimming and maintenance. Our certified arborists make cuts just outside the branch collar, allowing the tree to heal properly and minimize the risk of infection.

Over pruning

Over pruning occurs when excessive foliage or branches are removed from a tree, leaving it vulnerable to stress, sunburn, and disease. Trees need their leaves to produce food through photosynthesis and support overall growth. Removing too much foliage can weaken the tree and hinder its ability to recover. When pruning, tree service experts remove only dead, diseased, or crossing branches, and avoid excessive thinning.

Improper Timing

Timing is crucial in tree maintenance, and pruning is no exception. Pruning at the wrong time of year can disrupt the tree’s natural growth cycles and leave it susceptible to damage. For most trees and shrubs, the best time to prune is during the dormant season, usually late winter to early spring. However, there are exceptions, such as spring-flowering trees, which should be pruned immediately after flowering. Always research the specific needs of your plants before pruning.

Using Dull or Improper Tools

Using dull or improper tools can cause jagged cuts that damage the tree and increase the risk of infection. Before tree trimming, ensure your tools are clean, sharp, and appropriate for the task at hand. Arborists can show up with pruning shears, loppers, and saws to make clean cuts without crushing or tearing the branches.

Proper pruning is essential for maintaining the health, beauty, and longevity of trees and shrubs. By avoiding the common mistakes mentioned, you can promote healthy growth and minimize the risk of damage and disease. Contact us at the Southern Star Tree to schedule a consultation with our experts to access comprehensive services, from planting and routine care to tree removal and stump grinding.


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