What’s the Difference Between Tree Trimming and Tree Pruning?

 In Arborist, Arborist Buffalo NY, Tree Pruning, Tree Trimming

These two acts, tree trimming and tree pruning are very similar. But how do these things differ? Many people use the terms interchangeably, but they mean different things, have different functions, and operate on different timelines.  Learn about the differences to maximize your beautiful Buffalo, NY landscape.

If you have any concerns about trimming your trees, don’t hesitate to call Bradley Trees and have our ISA-certified arborists handle the job for you. We’re passionate about trees and making our home here in WNY as beautiful as possible.

Definitions of Tree Trimming vs Tree Pruning

To answer this question, let’s start by looking at some definitions. Tree trimming is commonly defined as the shaping of a plant to meet a specific design or remove overgrown branches. Tree pruning on the other hand is defined as a process that takes the whole tree into account to make cuts that keep the tree healthy and free of disease.

A funny difference between tree trimming and pruning is that trimming is done mostly to smaller shrubs, bushes, and trees while pruning is almost exclusive to taller trees.  

What are the differences in the function of tree trimming vs pruning?

 Another difference is their functions.  Tree trimming’s purpose is to promote growth in a specific way, for any number of reasons.  You could just want things thinned out, maybe you want to entertain guests outdoors and your tree is a bit overgrown. Perhaps you want to start the tree’s canopy higher, so the cuts made are influenced by where you want the canopy to start.  Maybe you want to shape your shrubs into a specific design, or just have them be squared off.  These are all things handled by tree trimming.

Meanwhile, tree pruning’s main function is to ensure the health of your tree.  Dead, diseased or dying branches are removed.  Pruning typically targets younger branches before they become too big to handle. Pruning is almost like a science in how exact your cuts must be in order to have the most effective outcome.  Remember, we don’t want to remove the branch collar.

Tree trimming is important for keeping aesthetics

Two Bradley Trees aroborists beside trees

Is the equipment the same? If not, how does it differ?

The equipment used in tree trimming vs tree pruning also differs.  In trimming, most of the work is done with clippers.  These clippers can be manual, gas or electric-powered.  Shears can be used, but they’re far more common in pruning.  

What a transition! As mentioned, in pruning, shears are the primary tool used.  There are different types of shears for different jobs. For example, there are hand shears, which are useful for smaller stems and branches. There are also long shears, with longer handles and thicker blades, meant to cut through the thicker stuff.  Pruning saws may also be used for the thickest stems and branches, but those power tools should only be handled by a professional arborist.

Timelines for tree trimming vs tree pruning

The timetables for trimming and pruning also are a big difference. Of course, there’s variance between plants and seasons. For tree trimming, it’s recommended to be done twice a year, including once after the flowering season.  Shrubs specifically should be trimmed should be done before they reach a height of 12 inches (~28cm).

For tree pruning, it varies according to the blooming cycle of the plant. For example, many summer-flowering tree’s ideal time to be pruned would be in the winter, to promote the most growth and flowering.  If you prune in the summer, you’ll stunt these tree’s growth.

Do you need an ISA-certified arborist?

What you’re looking for out of your landscaping will determine whether you’re looking to trim or prune your trees.  Knowing when to prune or trim is important.  If you’re just looking to do some bi-annual trimming of small branches, you could want to look into getting some clippers and handling it yourself.  According to guides for your trees and shrubs of course.  If you want to do larger-scale pruning or trimming of taller trees’ branches, hire a pruning professional.  Remember, that tree on your property is your liability.  

Contact us!

“If it’s green and growing but not grass, Bradley Tree takes care of it” – Jared Webber

Bradley Tree and Landscaping specialize in lawn care in the Buffalo, NY region. Our ISA-certified arborists are the best in Western New York.  Don’t hesitate to call or fill out a contact form today! We love educating our customers and keeping them informed during the whole process. We offer many services that aren’t just trimming or pruning to make sure your landscape is the best it can be. 

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