While tree pruning is best left to certified arborists, homeowners should understand the proper tree pruning techniques professionals should use. This knowledge allows you to ensure your trees receive the highest-quality pruning service and care. 

Tree Pruning techniques - Professional gardener pruning a tree

To get you started, we’ve compiled a quick overview of recommended tree pruning techniques:

Crown Thinning

This technique selectively removes branches from the outer crown of the tree to increase light penetration and air movement. Thinning cuts target overcrowded areas but preserve the tree’s natural shape and branch spacing.  

Crown Raising

Crown raising removes lower branches by cutting them back to the trunk. This provides clearance for buildings, pedestrians, vehicles, and views. Only branch removal up to 1/3 the tree’s total height is advised.

Crown Reduction

If a tree is too large for its surroundings, crown reduction pruning can reduce its height and spread through specific branch removal cuts. This reshapes the crown, but should preserve the structural integrity.

Pruning Young Trees

For newly planted trees, pruning should focus on developing a strong central leader and well-spaced permanent scaffold branches. Remove rubbing/inwardly facing branches early.

Making Pruning Cuts

Two approved pruning cut techniques are used – the branch bark ridge cut and the branch collar cut. Both preserve key areas of the trunk to defend against decay.

Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Tree Pruning Techniques

Before choosing a particular tree pruning technique, it’s helpful to understand the do’s and don’ts. This is to ensure each tree is pruned properly and safely. 


  • Use clean, sharp pruning tools
  • Prune during dormancy if possible  
  • Consider pruning for size, structure, health
  • Use heading cuts for specific shaping
  • Avoid pruning more than 25% of branches


  • Prune without a purpose
  • Remove or damage branch collars/bark ridges
  • Make flush cuts that remove the branch collar
  • Use pruning paints/sealants on cut surfaces
  • Climb with spikes (use ladders/lifts instead)
  • Top/dehorn trees by indiscriminately lopping branches

Time Your Pruning Well

Most routine pruning takes place during dormancy before spring growth, but pruning may also occur for hazard elimination or light trimming at any time except early spring. Know when your area’s pruning restrictions occur.

With an understanding of recommended tree pruning techniques, homeowners can ensure their trees receive professional care from East Coast Tree Service, extending their health and structural integrity for years to come. Contact us at (781) 518-8014 to schedule your tree trimming and pruning services.

JK Painting Services Corp. 12 Tudor St Waltham, MA 02453  Call Today (781) 775-6651
East Coast Tree Service

Based in Reading, MA 01867

Call (781) 518-8014

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Removal, Trimming & Pruning
Removal, Trimming & Pruning