Green Landscaping of San Jose

What is the difference between Tree Trimming and Pruning?

What is the difference between Tree Trimming and Pruning?

Whether you’re a new homeowner in San Jose or have lived here for years, the trees on your property need regular care and maintenance to stay healthy. You may have heard the terms “tree trimming” and “pruning” used interchangeably, but they refer to different techniques for caring for trees.  In this post, I’ll define these two practices, so you know when each is appropriate for your landscape trees. Properly maintaining trees through trimming versus pruning can help prevent disease, improve their appearance, prevent hazards like overhanging branches, and even increase your property value.  I’ll also recommend when to hire an ISA-certified arborist versus doing the work yourself. With the correct information, you’ll feel equipped to take the best care of the trees that provide shade, beauty, and enjoyment to your outdoor space. Let’s explore the difference between trimming and pruning so you can make informed decisions for your San Jose trees. What Is Tree Trimming? Tree trimming refers to cutting away dead, diseased, or damaged branches in order to maintain the health and appearance of trees. The goal is mostly to “tidy things up” by removing unsightly branches. Trimming can include: Tree trimming is often performed along with pruning to remove unhealthy branches and shape the canopy. Is Trimming Healthy for Trees? In moderation, trimming is beneficial for tree health. Removing dead or damaged branches prevents decay from spreading to healthy tissue. Getting rid of branches that rub together reduces the chance of wounds that could lead to disease. However, excessive trimming can stress trees and do more harm than good. Never remove more than 25% of the tree’s canopy in a single season, as removing too much foliage reduces its ability to generate energy from sunlight. Only trim off what is necessary for tree health and safety. The best approach is to trim lightly but frequently, such as checking landscape trees once per year and removing any branches showing signs of problems. What Is Pruning? Pruning refers to the selective removal of living branches and stems to shape the tree and encourage healthy growth patterns. Reasons you may choose to prune a tree include: The focus of pruning is guiding future growth and managing hazards, not just removing things that look out of place. There are different types of pruning cuts: Proper pruning techniques are vital, which is why professional arborists receive extensive training. Poor pruning can damage trees and lead to disease or structural failure down the road. Is Pruning Healthy for Trees? Yes, when done properly and at the right times of year, pruning provides significant health benefits for trees. By pruning branches that compete for light and resources, the remaining branches and tissues receive more energy and nutrients. This means larger fruit, beautiful fall color, and healthier growth. Getting rid of inward-facing branches also improves air circulation through the canopy. Good airflow allows the leaves to dry more quickly in damp weather, reducing fungal and bacterial diseases. Raising low branches provides safer passage underneath while lifting the crown for easier mowing and maintenance. And removing dead wood helps limit the spread of decay throughout the tree. However, as with trimming, moderation is key. Never remove more than 25% of the tree’s canopy within a single year, even if pruning for health reasons. Differences Between Pruning and Trimming Now that we’ve covered the specifics, let’s recap the key differences: Purpose Approach Technique Amount Removed Timing As you can see, pruning is more involved and detailed than basic trimming. Pruning seeks to enhance the landscape, while trimming focuses on maintenance. What Kinds of Tools Are Needed to Prune or Trim? To safely get the job done without damaging valuable branches, having the right pruning and trimming tools is essential. Trimming Equipment Basic trimming of small branches can be accomplished with manually operated shears and loppers. Useful tools include: For large branches that require sawing, chainsaws or handsaws with 6 to 10 inch blades work well. Chaps and protective eyewear are vital safety equipment when using any power saws. Pruning Equipment The equipment above can be used for light pruning work. Additionally, the following professional-grade tools allow for more detail: Sharpening stones and cleaning supplies will maintain high performance pruning tools between uses. And safety essentials like glasses, ear protection, gloves and hard hats apply for prune jobs too. Investing in quality tools ensures accuracy and avoids undue damage to the parts of the tree you intend to keep. This is especially key for detailed pruning cuts versus basic trimming. Conclusion Trimming and pruning both improve tree health while serving unique purposes. Now you know what sets these maintenance practices apart. Trimming removes only compromised branches to tidy appearance. Pruning strategically cuts living limbs to enhance form and future growth. Approaching each landscape tree with the appropriate technique provides needed care without going overboard. An ISA Certified Arborist can assess tree health and recommend a plan for trimming versus pruning on an individual basis. With this foundation, San Jose homeowners can understand terminology for communicating effectively with tree care pros. You also know what DIY equipment works for basic trimming versus more involved pruning jobs. Keeping mature trees vigorously growing has major benefits. Proper pruning encourages beauty, longevity, property value boosts, and environmental perks like cleaner air and wildlife habitat. By learning the differences between trimming and pruning, you can make informed decisions to get the most out of your landscape trees for years to come. FAQs