Tree Trimming 101: DIY Tips And When to Call The Pros

Tree trimming is an essential aspect of maintaining the health, beauty, and safety of the trees on your property. Removing dead or unhealthy branches is the best way to prevent potential accidents and help facilitate the growth of younger trees. As an added bonus, well-trimmed trees can significantly boost the curb appeal and value of your home. While tree trimming can be a rewarding DIY activity, there are instances where professional help is warranted. Let’s dive in to learn more about the best tree trimming practices and how to know when it’s time to call in the pros. 

Tree Trimming Basics

Tree trimming involves removing overgrown, dead, or diseased branches from a tree to improve its health and safety. While this may seem like a straightforward task, proper tree trimming requires a strategic approach to ensure that you are promoting the tree’s growth and not hindering it.

Tools and Equipment

Before you begin, it is important to assemble the right tools and equipment for the task. Here is a basic list of tools you might need:

  • Hand pruners: Ideal for cutting branches less than ¾ inch in diameter.
  • Lopping shears: Suitable for branches that are ¾ to 2 inches in diameter.
  • Pruning saws: Used for larger branches, over 2 inches in diameter.
  • Pole pruners: Handy for reaching higher branches without needing a ladder.

In addition to these tools, remember to wear protective gear such as gloves, safety glasses, and a hard hat to protect yourself from potential accidents.


Timing is a crucial factor when it comes to tree trimming. Generally, late winter to early spring is considered the best time to trim most trees as they are dormant, reducing the risk of pest attraction and disease infection. However, different tree species may have different optimal times for trimming, so it’s essential to research the specific type of tree you intend to trim.

DIY Tips for Tree Trimming

Before you start with your DIY tree trimming project, having a fundamental understanding of tree anatomy will be beneficial. Here are key terms and concepts you should know:

  • Branch collar: The part of the tree where the branch meets the trunk. It is crucial not to damage this area to promote healthy healing after a cut.
  • Leader branch: This is the primary branch that dictates the growth direction of the tree. Usually, it is the tallest and strongest branch.
  • Scaffold branches: These are the primary limbs that grow from the trunk, providing the tree’s structure.
  • Water sprouts and suckers: These are small, thin branches that grow at the base of the tree or on existing branches. Removing these helps to direct energy to the more substantial branches.

Trimming Techniques

Once you are familiar with the tree’s anatomy, it’s time to delve into the different trimming techniques that can be applied:

  • Thinning: This involves removing select branches to increase light penetration and air movement. It maintains the tree’s natural shape while promoting healthy growth.
  • Raising: This technique involves removing the lower branches to provide clearance for buildings, vehicles, and pedestrians.
  • Reduction: Reduction involves decreasing the size of the tree, usually for utility line clearance or to reduce the risk of storm damage. Always maintain a live branch ratio of at least two-thirds of the tree’s height to ensure its health.

Tips for making clean cuts:

  • Make sure your tools are sharp to avoid tearing the bark.
  • Make cuts close to the branch collar without damaging it.
  • For large branches, use a three-cut method to prevent bark stripping.


Though often used interchangeably with trimming, pruning is focused on the removal of dead or diseased branches to foster healthy growth. Here’s how to go about it:

  • Identify and remove dead branches: Regular inspection of trees for dead or diseased branches is essential.
  • Crown thinning: This refers to the selective removal of branches to increase light exposure and air movement through the crown.
  • Formative pruning: For young trees, formative pruning helps in developing a strong structural foundation.

The goal of pruning and trimming is to have  healthier, safer, and more aesthetically pleasing trees. So keep in mind not to remove more than 25% of a tree’s crown in a single session. When in doubt, it’s better to be cautious. 

When to Call a Professional

Embarking on a DIY tree trimming project can be rewarding, but it’s good to recognize when it’s time to call a professional to handle more complex  situations.

Complex Jobs

Some tree trimming tasks are intricate and require specialized knowledge and equipment. Tasks like removing large branches hanging over a house or dealing with trees near power lines should be handled by professionals to reduce risks.

Safety Concerns

Safety should always be the priority. If a tree is extensively damaged or diseased, it might pose a hazard that is best addressed by a skilled arborist who can assess and address the risk properly.

Legal Regulations

In many regions, there are legal regulations governing tree trimming, especially when it concerns trees on public property or those protected due to their age or species. Before starting a trimming project, ensure to become familiar with the local regulations to avoid potential legal issues.

Finding Tree Trimming Professionals

Although DIY methods have their place, tree trimming is one area where professional expertise truly shines. When in doubt, always lean on the expertise of those who know trees best. Make sure to verify the credentials and insurance of any tree trimming company to ensure your trees are in the best hands. Ask friends and family for a referral, and always go with a company that has excellent reviews.Whether you’d like to prepare for hurricane season or simply want the best care for your trees, don’t hesitate to reach out to Professional Tree Trimmers.

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Contact Professional Tree Trimmers Today

When you choose Professional Tree Trimmers for your tree trimming needs, you can rest assured that your trees are in capable hands. We combine our expertise, professionalism, and commitment to safety to deliver outstanding results that exceed your expectations. Contact us today for a free consultation and let our team of experts enhance the health, beauty, and safety of your trees through our comprehensive tree-trimming services.

Call Us: 561-502-8733