10 Reasons Why You Should Prune Trees and Shrubs

10 Reasons Why You Should Prune Trees and Shrubs

Tree & Shrub Pruning Tips

by Chris McLaughlin

Not sure about pruning your plants? We’ve compiled 10 reasons why you should prune trees and shrubs in your yard or garden to help maintain their long-term health.

Practicing simple techniques, using the right tools, along with proper timing for each plant species is the key to effective pruning and most require very little pruning in order to achieve the gardener’s goal. But before taking sharp tools to your plants, you should understand exactly what those goals are and why you’re pruning them in the first place.

Remember that every cut made will alter the plant’s shape and growth. In fact, the list below addresses the many reasons that any tree or shrub should be pruned in the yard or garden. If you are interested in having your trees or bushes trimmed, remember that you can use a service like TreeSurgeon.Care to help.

Here are ten great reasons to prune trees (including fruiting) and shrubs:


Reason #1: Vigor

Pruning a growing shoot stimulates new growth production. So if you’re looking for some vigorous new growth on a shrub, prune it hard (a lot). Consider this type of pruning when you have a shrub that has a weak section of growth; such as the back. In fact, when you “pinch” back new growth with your fingers on any plant, you’re actually pruning.

Reason #2: Shape

Plants that have grown out of balance with either the yard or their own growing pattern (such as stray and awkward branches) can be reshaped by pruning.

Reason #3: Restrict a Plant’s Size

This can be especially important if you live in an area with restricted space. Gardeners living in urban and suburban areas almost always have to prune trees and shrubs to keep them from out-growing the yard, garden, or container. Root-pruning is another technique that can help restrict the size of plants in containers.

Reason #4: Let in More Light

If you have an extremely shady yard or you’d like to have more sun reaching the area under a tree for plants or lawn, careful pruning can let in a little extra sunshine.

Reason #5: Health and Structural Soundness

Any diseased, injured, dying, or dead branches should be removed for the health of the tree. Branches that rub together should be removed to eliminate potential damage to a main branch. Much of maintaining structural soundness in a tree is about careful pruning practices such as not “topping” trees. Topping can make the tree weak and susceptible to pests. It’s also associated with the slow death even if it takes years for the tree to actually die.

Reason #6: Create Special Effects

Most often, pruning for special effects is seen in formal-type gardens. They often take the shape of boxwood topiary or an apple tree that’s been trained as an espalier. Pollarding or coppicing pruning techniques may be used, as well.

Reason #7: Encourage Flowering and Fruit

Pruning can coax growth spurs (produces the flowers and the fruit) to form on the branches. Strong flower buds are also encouraged to form due to pruning. Fruit trees can be lightly pruned in the summer which will provide better air circulation around the fruit. This results in less trouble with fruit diseases and the fruit ripens faster.

Reason #8: Protect People and Property

Prune trees that have been planted near homes, sheds, play structures, and other buildings as they propose a potential threat to human safety if heavy branches break off or the tree falls. They can also interfere with telephone or power lines. Proper pruning can keep people, pets, and property safe.

Reason #9: Keep Evergreens Proportionate

Pruning will keep boundary hedges under control. Evergreens benefit from light pruning as it keeps their foliage dense, and therefore, attractive.

Reason #10: Improve Appearance

Many gardeners’ top priority when pruning their plants is about their appearance in the yard or garden. Removing dead, unwanted branches, as well as suckers creates a pleasing shape and leaves plants looking neat and tidy. Many lovely blooming shrubs such the Butterfly Bush (Buddleia spp.) are capable of spectacular blossom displays due to good pruning techniques.

Usually pruning is about working with a plant’s natural growth pattern as it’s developing, as well as maintaining mature tree and shrub species. One of the few exceptions is when it’s used to create effects such as espalier. In general, a successful pruning job will leave your healthy, beautifully-shaped fruit trees or shrubs looking like they haven’t been touched at all.

Ready to get pruning in your garden? Check out our list of must-have gardening tools!

9 replies
  1. Heidi Bookenstock
    Heidi Bookenstock says:

    There’s a large apple tree in my front yard. I’ve been advice to prune it, but it’s so big, I would hate to trim it down. I appreciate the advice in this article, it’s a good idea to prune the tree so that there will be better air circulation around the fruit.

  2. Taylor Bishop
    Taylor Bishop says:

    Thanks for explaining some benefits to pruning. It’s good to know that pruning a tree can help restrict the size of plants in containers. This seems very helpful if you have a limited space and don’t want your places to grow too much.

  3. Sariah Meagle
    Sariah Meagle says:

    Restoring my tree’s vigor as you mentioned is something I’ve wanted to do but don’t know how so I’ll consider hiring a tree pruning service for that. I do agree that they’ll prune enough to boost its health and structural soundness as you pointed out so that it can grow healthily. If they can improve its appearance as you suggest, it would make me a happy tree owner.

  4. Penelope Smith
    Penelope Smith says:

    I liked that you pointed out that pruning a tree will help it stay healthy. That is a good thing for me to know because I have a lot of trees in my backyard. I will have to get someone to prune the trees for me.

  5. Brooklyn Johnson
    Brooklyn Johnson says:

    I like how you mentioned that trees that have been planted near homes, and other buildings propose a potential threat to human safety if heavy branches break off or the tree falls. I have a huge tree in my yard that is towering over my house, and I’m scared that if we have a bad storm it could fall on our house. I will definitely take your advice and get my tree pruned to prevent disaster from happening.

  6. Mia Stewart
    Mia Stewart says:

    I like how the article explains that trimming your trees can help to improve their appearance. My trees haven’t been trimmed in a while and they are starting to look overgrown and not attractive. I will look into hiring someone to come and trim my trees.

  7. Dennis Sanchez
    Dennis Sanchez says:

    My wife and I recently moved into a home with some trees that look like they are struggling to grow. I’m glad you talked about how pruning can stimulate new growth in plants. I’ll have to contact a professional service to prune those trees for me.

  8. Kate Hansen
    Kate Hansen says:

    I love how you mentioned that it can help with improving the appearance of your property. My front yard has a bush that has grown very long and I was wondering how important it would be to prune it. I’ll have to look into hiring a service to come in and prune it so my yard can look better!

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