Your tree should come with a list of instructions for good pruning and proper care — follow the recommendations carefully to ensure healthy growth.

Pruning is an essential part of keeping your tree healthy. Never cut a branch flush against the trunk, and don't leave long stubs. Remove only dead, broken or crossing branches.

Proper method for pruning trees

Wait at least five years before pruning your new tree, and use the "one-third rule":

  • Never remove more than 1/3 of a tree's crown.
  • Where possible, try to encourage side branches that form angles that are 1/3 off vertical (10 o'clock and 2 o'clock positions).
  • For most broadleaf trees, don't prune up from the bottom any more than 1/3 of the tree's total height.
  • Tree paints or other solutions are no longer recommended for sealing pruning cuts — the wound will heal itself quickly if the cuts are made properly.

Never "top" a tree

Never "top" a tree by cutting main branches back to stubs. The practice starves the tree by drastically reducing its food-making ability and makes the tree more susceptible to insects, disease and storm damage.

The stubs also will sprout spindly branches that can quickly grow back higher than the original limb and require even more frequent pruning.

When you're pruning, be sure to check for power lines first. Not only can electrical current travel through trees, but falling branches can easily catch on or knock down power lines as well. If your tree has power lines nearby, call a professional arborist for help.

More from this category

Meters and transformers

Green transformer box

While utility equipment isn't attractive, disguising it with landscaping can lead to problems.

learn more

Electric lawn mowers

Electric robot mower on lawn

Electric and even automatic robot mowers are taking the market by storm. You can trim your grass with less noise, exertion and energy.

learn more

Outdoor living rooms & kitchens

outdoor kitchen sink

A new trend is to make your outdoor living space as comfortable as inside. Find out how to enjoy your outside while still saving energy.

learn more

Installing a rainwater collection system

Pete next to a rainwater barrel

A rain barrel rainwater collection system is a great way to decrease your sump pump’s energy use and your water usage.

learn more

How to plant a tree

Girl with shovel and tree

Planting a tree helps the environment, but it can also help you save energy. There are many things to keep in mind when planting a new tree.

learn more

Outdoor hot tubs

Mom and son in hot tub

Choosing an insulated tub will help you relax while you're enjoying your new outdoor spa.

learn more

Energy efficient landscaping

Landscaping plans drawing

Landscaping can improve the energy efficiency and beauty of your home. See what landscaping experts recommend.

learn more

Energy hogs in the garage

Mini fridge in a garage

Your garage probably has appliances, battery chargers, and all sorts of electrical devices that could be adding up to a lot of money and energy wasted.

learn more

Unique ideas for shading your home

Sun shade on patio

Learn how you can provide shade for your home or patio using vines, shade cloth and other clever ideas.

learn more