top of page

TREES, PLEASE! Read Carefully

By Tim Clancy, for Let's Talk Plants! March 2023.

WiX stock photo. Tree pruning is an essential process that is done to maintain and enhance the growth of trees.

Read Carefully

Tree pruning is an essential process that is done to maintain and enhance the growth of trees. However, poor pruning practices can have negative consequences on the health and structure of trees. In this article, we will explore the impacts of poor tree pruning and why it is important to use proper pruning techniques.

Photo credit T. Clancy. Over thinned Aleppo pine.

Poor tree pruning can lead to a wide range of problems. One common issue is the development of weak branches. When trees are pruned incorrectly, they can be left with weak branches that are more susceptible to breaking during storms or high winds. Weak branches can also pose a safety hazard, as they can fall and injure people or damage property.

Another problem with poor tree pruning is the development of decay. When trees are pruned improperly, the wounds created can take a long time to heal, leaving the tree vulnerable to pests and diseases. Decay can develop in the affected area, spreading throughout the tree and causing it to weaken over time. This can eventually lead to the tree’s death.

Poor pruning can also lead to the development of structural problems. Trees that are pruned incorrectly can develop a lopsided or uneven shape, which can affect their ability to withstand wind and other weather events. Structural problems can also make a tree more likely to break or fall, which can pose a safety risk to people and property.

Photo credit T. Clancy. Mulberry tree in disguise.

It’s not just the health and safety of the tree that can be impacted by poor pruning. The aesthetics of the tree can also suffer. Trees that are pruned improperly can develop an unnatural shape or appearance, which can detract from their natural beauty. This can be a problem in public spaces or on private properties where trees are valued for their appearance.

So, what can be done to prevent poor tree pruning? The first step is to educate yourself or hire a professional arborist who is trained in proper pruning techniques. Proper pruning involves removing only the necessary branches while leaving the majority of the tree intact. This helps to maintain the tree’s natural shape and promotes healthy growth.

Another important factor to consider when pruning trees is timing. Pruning should be done during the tree’s dormant season, which is typically in late fall or winter. Pruning during this time allows the tree to heal more quickly and reduces the risk of disease or pests.

It’s also important to use the proper tools and equipment when pruning trees. Sharp and clean tools can make clean cuts and reduce the risk of damage to the tree. Using dull or dirty tools can create ragged cuts that can take longer to heal and provide an entry point for pests and disease.

In conclusion, poor tree pruning can have significant negative impacts on the health, safety, and aesthetics of trees. To prevent these problems, it’s important to use proper pruning techniques, hire a professional arborist if necessary, and use the right tools and equipment. By taking these steps, we can help to ensure that our trees remain healthy and beautiful for years to come.


Tim Clancy is both a Registered Consulting Arborist and a Certified Arborist who likes to juggle and play ukulele though not at the same time. He can be reached at


bottom of page