Pruning of tree limbs on a regularly scheduled basis will improve tree health, control growth, and enhance fruiting, flowering, and appearance. Trees should be pruned for the first time 2 to 5 years after planting, then every 5 to 7 years thereafter. Pruning is best done from winter to early spring (before new growth starts) because wounds close quickly as growth starts in the spring and insect and disease infestations are less likely.

Improper Pruning Damages Trees
Topping or excessively lifting a tree, which distorts a tree’s natural form is not recommended. By suddenly removing the tree’s canopy, which acts like an umbrella, sun can scald remaining exposed tissue and send the tree into shock. These practices remove leaves, which manufacture the tree’s food through photosynthesis, upsets a tree’s crown to root ratio and temporarily causes starvation.

What it Is
By definition pruning is the process of selectively removing unwanted parts of a plant or tree to preserve and enhance its structural integrity.

In the South Florida region, we prune trees mainly to increase their chances of withstanding a storm while enduring and causing minimal damage. Pruned trees perform better when subjected to forces of strong winds associated with hurricanes and thunderstorms because they facilitate for the passage of wind through their canopies and they are free of limbs that a have a potential for becoming projectiles. Because of these reasons, it is imperative that homeowners and homeowner associations hire tree care professionals that have the certifiable knowledge on how to properly prune trees and who are properly insured.

Who Should Prune
Uncertified and uninsured tree maintenance workers will inevitably charge less to prune trees but their low fees are deceiving. They may incorrectly prune trees which will put in peril the adjacent properties and their values because of weakly attached new growth.

Because it is a delicate process and requires extensive knowledge, homeowners and homeowner associations should refrain from pruning trees even though it seems deceivingly simple. In fact, the only time a homeowner should prune a tree themselves is when the immediate safety of a person is in peril.

The best way of preventing wrongful pruning is to get involved. The homeowner should have the tree expert pre-select and mark the branches that will be pruned. Once pre-selected, the homeowner should discuss together with the tree expert the reasons and effects the pruning will have on the future growth of the tree.

An educated homeowner cannot be taken advantage of. Therefore, the homeowner must be able to recognize if the tree expert is performing his job correctly. Of primary importance is recognizing what a proper tree cut should look like. In addition, knowing and understanding the effects of pruning will allow the homeowner to recognize if their tree structure or health is being put in peril.