7 Reasons Why You Should Prune Your Trees

Mariel Loveland
Written by Mariel Loveland
Updated February 24, 2022
 Family having brunch in the garden
Photo: Johner Images / Johner Images Royalty-Free / Getty Images

Cutting your trees back is a brilliant step forward

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You might think that cutting branches is counterproductive, but pruning is an essential part of tree care. Think of it as a haircut for your plants—you’re getting rid of the damaged ends, creating an aesthetic, and giving your tree a healthy base to help it grow. Just how important is it? Here are reasons why you should prune your trees.

1. Tree Pruning Promotes Growth

Tree pruning actually promotes new growth. When you remove struggling or unattractive branches, your tree can dedicate more resources (like water and nutrients) to other parts of the plant. These parts push out regrowth in an effort to balance out the top of your tree with the existing root system. Generally, you’ll see new growth around the cuts. The more you prune, the lusher your tree will grow, as long you don’t take it too far. These tree pruning tips can help.

2. It Encourages Fruit Production

 Closeup of a tree full of tangerines
Photo: Milanchikov / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Dead limbs are a safe haven for insect infestations and tree diseases. If your fruit tree is sick, it may not produce much fruit. Lopping off the dead bits is a safeguard, but it also encourages the growth of spurs, the part of your tree that produces the fruit. In a healthy tree, more spurs mean more fruit. Hello, bountiful harvest. 

3. You Can Use Pruning to Treat Disease

Trees can get sick just like humans—and those diseases can quickly spread. Sometimes, pruning is the best way to treat a common tree disease, especially if that disease is a fungal infection. It’s basically pruning 101.

For example, powdery mildew (a set of common fungi) can quickly spread among most types of trees. While it doesn’t usually kill a tree, it can easily disfigure most of the vegetation in your yard without intervention. In this case, pruning and destroying the affected branches is the best course of action. If your trees seem worse for the wear, a tree care service can help diagnose the problem. 

4. Pruning Trees Prevents Safety Hazards

This type of pruning is usually done by a professional tree service, and for good reason. Trees can quickly pose a safety risk if they’re diseased or damaged. Dead branches can easily fall during high winds, but the risk isn’t solely limited to bad weather. 

Things get particularly dangerous when branches are hanging over your roof or electrical lines. Poor root growth can cause your entire tree to fall, causing catastrophic damage. Tree pruning can help prevent a safety hazard by ensuring that your tree is healthy from top to bottom. 

5. It Can Help You Shape Your Tree

 Man using shears to shape a tree in his backyard
Photo: JPWALLET / iStock / Getty Images

Pruning doesn’t just help keep your tree healthy. Along with tree trimming, it can give your plant a decorative aesthetic not typically found in nature. We often see this in professional gardens that use pollarding and topiary

Pollarding is a method of pruning used to reduce a tree’s height and promote the growth of dense foliage. Topiary is the art of shaping shrubs and trees into ornamental shapes (for example, spherical boxwoods). If you want to give your trees a certain aesthetic, find a local tree service that specializes in ornamental trimming.

6. Pruning Removes Unwanted Growth

Like tree trimming, tree pruning can help you remove unwanted growth—whether it’s visible foliage or part of the root system. Some people use pruning to help limit the size of their trees (a huge oak may not be the best for a small backyard). Other people use pruning to remove healthy foliage that blocks their view (a type of tree pruning known as vista pruning). Pruning may also be used to remove:

  • Roots that damage sidewalks

  • Roots that enter underground pipe systems

  • Branches that encroach on power lines 

  • Branches dangerously close to the home

  • Branches that are not aesthetically pleasing

Basically, if you don’t like what you’re looking at (or it’s posing a problem), pruning lets you cut it off.

7. Pruning Saves Money in the Long Run

Some homeowners don’t mind performing DIY tree trimming and pruning, but it can get a little complicated (and dangerous) when you’re dealing with large trees. In this case, most people enlist a local tree trimmer or general tree service. It’s not exactly inexpensive, but it does save you money in the long run.

The average cost to maintain or prune trees is around $460, but it can be as little as $200. Corrective pruning (which is often necessary when you don’t properly maintain your trees) can cost a couple hundred more. Either way, it’s still less expensive than removing and replacing a diseased, damaged, or dangerous tree. The cost of tree removal can exceed $1,200 and that’s not even including planting a replacement.

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