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Tree Trimming Tips for the Best Foliage

Did you know that tree trimming is not only for aesthetic appeal and safety but also crucial to your tree's health? When done correctly and regularly, it can actually encourage healthy and lush foliage. Here are some tree trimming tips to keep your trees looking great:


  • 4 Tree Trimming Tips

  • Trim During Late Dormant Season

  • Trim Using Sharp Shears

  • Trim Based on the Tree’s Growth Habit

  • Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help

  • Look for an ISA Certified Arborist

Trim During Late Dormant Season

To guarantee that your trees at home look their best, you'll want to trim them at the right time of year. The perfect time for tree trimming is from late winter to early spring before bud break, also known as the late dormant season. ("Pruning Trees and Shrubs." UMN Extension. The University of Minnesota Extension. Accessed October 12, 2022.

Moreover, trimming trees during certain months can also increase the likelihood of contracting specific diseases. For example, Oaks are more susceptible to Oak Wilt from April to June and then September to October, or when the carrier beetles of the fungus that causes the disease are most active.

If it is necessary to trim trees during these months, ensure that you'll also apply wound dressing or latex paint over the wound to mask the odor of freshly cut wood. Beatles love this smell, but these bugs might only carry harmful viruses and bacteria that may begin to infect the tree through an open wound.

Trim Using Sharp Shears

Ensure all of your shears are sharp, as dull blades can cause ragged cuts and leave behind tiny tears in the tree's bark. These wounds can harbor disease-causing bacteria and pests and be unattractive visual blemishes. A clean cut with sharp shears prevents both of these problems.

While at it, wash your shears after each use, as dirt buildup can scratch the blades and dull them even further. Cleaning and sanitizing your shears before each use can also help prevent tree diseases from spreading. For example, oak wilt and white pine blister rust can be spread by pruning equipment. So don't be sloppy in ensuring you use clean and sanitized shears.

If you're unsure how to clean tools properly, you can also check out some videos on YouTube. You can also call us at 3rd Day Tree Service. Our arborist is certified by the ISA (International Society of Arboriculture), so you know that we're qualified to answer your questions—including how to clean and sharpen shears.

Trim Based on the Tree's Growth Habit

Different trees have different growth habits and, thus, will require different tree-trimming techniques. For example, some trees are naturally symmetrical, while others grow in an asymmetrical shape.

It is important to understand what kind of growth habit your tree has before trimming it so that you don't accidentally change its shape or leave any unwanted branches sticking out from the trunk. Here are some examples of growth habits that common landscape trees have:

Spruces and Firs

Spruces and firs have lateral or side buds, so they can continue to grow even when their crown is trimmed. However, these trees naturally tend to grow in an upright, conical shape. So, they can be left unclipped as they naturally form a pyramid-shaped canopy that is ideal for small yards and patios.


This tree will grow into a wide, rounded top that can be trimmed back to create more space in your yard. The base of the tree should be trimmed back to keep it from becoming too wide. If you prefer a more natural appearance, leave some branches on the lower part of the tree for visual interest.


Pines do not have lateral or side buds, so removing terminal buds will also remove that branch's only source of new growth. Eventually, the tree will be left with dead stubs around its trunk. Pines don't usually require tree pruning, but if you want to encourage denser foliage growth, remove up to about two-thirds of the length of new pine candles. Don't cut back further than into old candle material or even this year's growth.

Arborvitae and Junipers

Arborvitae and junipers, including yews and hemlocks, grow continuously throughout the growing season. Being so, they can be pruned at any time through mid-summer. But, even though these trees can handle extensive shearing, their natural shape is already beautiful to look at, so trim and prune only to correct growth defects.

Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Trimming small trees is fairly easy, but large trees can be dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. In fact, according to a report by the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), the fatal accident rate for arborists is about ten times higher than the average rate across all industries! ("How Many People Are Killed by Falling Trees Every Year in the U.S.?" Reiff Law Firm, March 26, 2014.

So, as much as possible, you should leave trimming of large trees to qualified tree service companies or professionals with the proper tools and safety equipment.

Always use heavy-duty gloves and eye protection if you decide to trim your own trees. Make sure that all of the tools are in good condition before using them; if not, replace them immediately. Always use a ladder or another form of climbing equipment when trimming tall trees. Never stand on an extension ladder; instead, use a scaffold or bucket truck to reach higher branches. When working with power tools, such as chainsaws and electric clippers, always wear hearing and eye protection devices.

If you don't know how to trim a tree or want an expert opinion on whether or not it needs to be pruned, don't hesitate to consult with us at 3rd Day Tree Service before making any decisions regarding your trees. Our consultations are always free, and we will also provide you with a free quote to give you an idea of how much tree service companies charge.

Look for an ISA Certified Arborist

Proper and regular tree trimming will result in healthy, attractive foliage. A lush tree will attract birds and other wildlife, giving you a front-row seat to the beauty of nature.

A healthy tree can resist disease, pests, and environmental stresses. Trees can also help reduce your electric power consumption by providing shade and reducing your need to blast down your air conditioning settings during hot months. As an added benefit, a well-maintained yard will even increase your property value.

If you want to preserve the beauty and health of your trees, contact 3rd Day Tree Service today. Our ISA Certified Arborist will inspect your tree and recommend its care. We will also perform any necessary pruning or removal services to ensure that your trees remain healthy and beautiful. Call us today!

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