Tree Trimming vs. Tree Pruning — What’s the Difference?

When it comes to tree maintenance, there are two main tasks: trimming and pruning. Tree trimming is the process of removing excess branches from a tree, primarily to improve its esthetic appearance. Tree pruning, on the other hand, is the beneficial removal of dead branches or unwanted growth to improve the tree’s overall health. So when should you do each? Let’s look at the differences between tree trimming and tree pruning!

Tree Trimming

Trimming trees, shrubs, and hedges is done to change their shape, redirect their growth, and make them more attractive. Commercial clients frequently trim trees in order to make their property more visually appealing to potential customers. Though sometimes necessary, tree trimming is primarily a cosmetic procedure.

Trees or bushes can sometimes get out of hand and grow in the wrong direction. They may push up against electrical wires and cause fire hazards or cause damage to buildings. In these cases, trimming is often the required solution.

So, when should you trim your trees? If you’re simply removing dead or dying branches, you can do this at any time of year. However, if you’re looking to reshape the tree by cutting back the tree’s growth, it’s best to trim in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. This helps to ensure that the tree’s natural growth cycle isn’t unduly interrupted by a sudden loss of growing foliage, which can shock the tree and potentially damage it.

Tree Pruning

Pruning is a maintenance procedure that involves the strategic removal of branches or even roots. Dead branches and roots are a particular problem and may need to be removed from the tree to prevent potential disease, further damage from catastrophic breakage, or future insect infestation.

In some cases, pruning will also require the removal of green shoots or other new growth, in order to prevent overgrowth and allow the tree to focus its growth in a healthier way. The primary purpose of pruning is always to encourage the healthiest development of the tree being pruned.

By pruning, you are essentially giving the tree a highly-strategic “haircut”—removing the “dead ends” to encourage fresh growth. Pruning stimulates growth while allowing the arborist to monitor and influence the overall health of the tree, improving fullness and encouraging new growth in areas where the tree is sparse.

Pruning should be done when the tree is dormant, typically in late winter or early spring. This allows the tree to heal before new growth begins.

Whether one is trimming or pruning, it’s important to note that you should never remove more than ⅓ of the tree’s branches in any given year. Doing so can shock and damage the tree.


For both tree trimming and tree pruning, you’ll need a few tools:

  • gloves
  • saw, for thicker branches
  • hand shears or lopping shears, depending on thickness of cut

For trimming, shears, trimmers, and saws are utilized to provide efficient results and healthier growth overall. The type of tree will also dictate the equipment used.

Pruning generally requires ladders, hand shears, and saws to reach higher branches. When removing larger branches, a chainsaw may be necessary. Chipping away at the tree can be done with an ax or hatchet, though it’s not recommended since the misuse of such tools can potentially harm the tree.

Hiring a Professional

Hiring an arborist is always the best option if you’re not comfortable working with power tools around trees. A professional arborist will have the experience and knowledge necessary to safely and effectively trim or prune your trees. They will also have access to the specialized equipment needed to perform any such job safely and efficiently, such as bucket trucks, chippers, stump grinders, and more.

If you’re looking for an arborist to trim your trees or have any questions, contact Reaching Higher by calling 717-502-4707. We’ll determine whether trimming or pruning is required and provide professional results that will make a lasting difference in the health and beauty of your trees.

When is the Best Time to Trim your Trees?

When is the best time to trim your trees? The answer is not always a simple one. There are a lot of things to consider when deciding when and how to trim your trees. Different types of trees need to be trimmed at different times, depending on their growth habits and needs. And there are other mitigating factors, like the presence of insects, the trees’ vulnerability to disease, and the shape and condition of the surrounding landscaping.

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How To Cut Tree Limbs That Are Too High to Reach

You see a tree on your property that seems to be damaged at its crown or maybe it’s starting to grow into wires. Yet its branches are much too high to reach.

How do you cut tree limbs that are too high to reach? The most important thing is to be safe. Of course, we recommend you contact a professional tree service. We have the training and the proper equipment to cut tree limbs safely and efficiently.

And there’ll be no mess for you to clean up afterward!

But if you insist on cutting tree limbs that are at a high elevation, here are a few tips: Continue reading

How Often Should You Trim Trees?

Pruning and trimming the trees on your commercial or residential property will help maintain their health and help prevent the risk of unhealthy limbs falling unexpectedly.

How often should you trim trees? Young trees should be inspected and trimmed every 1-5 years. Mature trees may benefit from a yearly inspection with perhaps a five- to 10-year cycle of trimming and pruning. Fruit trees may need to be trimmed annually.

Hire a qualified arborist to trim trees. Professional arborists know the proper types of cuts needed and are trained to know which tree parts to remove, the best location for each cut, and will have the proper equipment to do so safely. Reaching Higher is a member of The Pennsylvania-Delaware Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture. and the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA).  We are based in Gap, Pa., and service Chester and Lancaster counties.

Read further to learn the variables involved in when to trim trees and how frequently trimming and pruning services may be needed. Continue reading

How To Tell If A Tree Is Dead & Needs To Be Removed

If you suspect a tree in your yard might be dead, it’s important to find out for sure because dead trees should be removed before they fall and damage your house or other structures on your property. And sometimes trees that are not dead but look troubled may be able to be revived.

Keep reading to learn the top 5 signs to look for to tell if a tree is dead.

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