The 3 Do’s and 3 Don’ts of Tree Trimming

Jason Knapfel
3 min readOct 18, 2013

You’re probably no arborist, and when it comes to trimming trees, it’s always best to count on a professional. Whether you suspect tree rot, you want to protect your home from a fallen tree in case of a storm, or you simply want to keep your yard neat and tidy, tree trimming is one ongoing task that can be very dangerous if not done correctly. However, if you’re an avid DIYer, you have to know the basic do’s and don’ts of trimming a tree.

Do make sure you have the basic tools and garments available. Always wear long pants and sleeves, safety glasses, and gloves. Something like your basic grain leather gloves should do the trick—you don’t need to be tricked out in a brand new wardrobe. You do, however, need to protect yourself in case of a falling branch.

Do consider pruning and trimming a year-round process. The minute you notice a diseased or dead branch, snip it off. It’s kind of like cleaning the house—it’s a lot easier if you do it as you go instead of waiting until it’s out of control. Keep an eye on your trees and the job will be a lot easier.

Do consider how close trees and limbs are to your home’s windows. It’s easy to let a tree grow out of control. However, if you live in an area prone to severe storms, hurricanes, lightning or tornadoes, you know that a tree can easily turn from ornate to deadly. Keep trees trimmed far away from your home—and keep in mind that they can also double as ladders for burglars, so that’s another reason to keep them in shape.

Don’t use a chainsaw if you’re on a ladder or risk pruning if you’re near a power line. This is a job solely for the experts. Doing it “just once” is a recipe for disaster, and it’s simply not worth the risk.

Don’t prune a flowering tree until all the blossoms have opened, and don’t prune a tree that’s just been planted that year. Remember, these are living things, and just like people every one of them has unique needs. It’s shocking enough to be in new soil, and a deciduous flowering tree demands to be in full blossom before any snips are taken.

Don’t trim more than one quarter of a tree’s total branches in any given year. It’s called “trimming,” and just like trimming your hair, that means a relatively small amount. Along with that, don’t opt for a sealing product or a patch—and if you prune correctly, you won’t be reaching for those anyway. Trees are resourceful, and they have everything they need to seal themselves if you take proper care of them. If you patch, that gets in the way of a tree’s natural healing process and new growth.

This is a basic foundation for getting started, but it’s always best to call in the experts. Tree trimming is serious business, and it’s easy to get hurt or permanently damage a tree if any mistakes are made.



Jason Knapfel

Jason Knapfel is Content Manager for Webfor, an Internet marketing and SEO company in Vancouver, WA.