The Subtle Yet Important Differences Between Pruning and Trimming

Understanding the Time and Place for Tree Pruning versus Tree Trimming

In everyday conversations, there are many pairs of words that are used interchangeably even though each word has a slightly different meaning; in fact, this occurs so often that the parties immersed in those conversations understand what the speaker ‘meant’ to say regardless of the actual word they used to express their thoughts.

Pruning Versus Trimming

For example, few people engaged in verbal exchanges would take the time to determine the appropriate choice between accuracy/precision, assume/presume, or both/each; yet, grammatically, there are subtle but vital differences in the implications of those choices.

So why has this preamble been presented here? Because there is a parallel situation in the tree services industry; that is, using the terms pruning and trimming in an identical fashion to represent the process of cutting back the branches of trees or shrubs.

Although people will often transpose these words on an interchangeable basis to describe this process in general, there are differential implications when referring to tree pruning versus tree trimming.

The differences between trimming and pruning may be delineated as follows:

What is Tree Pruning?

Pruning entails the physical removal of weakened, dead, or diseased branches from trees or plants. It is generally performed for the purposes of:

  • Preserving the health of the tree or plant
  • Improving tree health after storm damage
  • Protecting/ensuring the safety of people and pets
  • Preventing branches from damaging other trees/property

Despite any thoughts to the contrary, pruning actually promotes tree growth rather than stunting its progress; as an example, pruning fruit trees can help in increasing the yield of the crop.

What is Tree Trimming?

Trimming involves the removal of excess and/or overgrown branches from trees, shrubs, and hedges. It is typically done for aesthetic purposes such as:

  • To permit an increased penetration of sunlight
  • Creating/maintaining the shape of bushes/shrubs
  • For shaping or reshaping the tree structure/canopy
  • To prevent taller trees from interfering with power lines

Tree trimming should be performed once or twice a year. It is typically best to trim trees during the dormant season and/or when it does not interfere with their blooming cycles.

Tips for Tree Pruning versus Tree Trimming from the Professionals at OnTree

Tips For Pruning and Trimming

Now that the subtle differences re: tree pruning versus tree trimming have been defined, here are some tips for do-it-yourself gardeners regarding their respective applications:

Tree Pruning Tips

  • Keep lateral branches spaced as equally as possible
  • Remove branches that cross or rub against other branches
  • Retain living branches on at least two-thirds of the tree’s height
  • Do not remove more than one-quarter of the living crown all at once

Tree Trimming Tips

  • Avoid cutting branches too short – leave the collar protruding from trunk
  • Avoid leaving branch collars too long – can impede/inhibit healing process
  • Preferably trim branches when they are younger and/or smaller in diameter
  • Make relief cuts to lessen weight of the branch – averts possible trunk damage

Although the home gardener clearly has the best of intentions, any incorrect applications of tree pruning or tree trimming, either in terms of technique, tool choice, and/or timing, can have a detrimental effect on the health and appeal of trees; additionally, there is the element of personal safety that must be taken into consideration, especially in relation to working at heights/on a ladder.

Hence, property owners might be well-advised to contract the services of a professional tree care provider, like OnTree, for any tree pruning and tree trimming needs. For more than 25 years, the professionals from OnTree have been providing knowledgeable and skilled tree pruning and tree trimming services for homeowners and property owners in Toronto and the surrounding area.

Their expertise includes but is not limited to:

  • Best times to prune/trim based on species
  • Best times to prune/trim based on desired outcome
  • Rectifying issues related to tree health or storm damage
  • Diagnosis and treatment of issues related to disease/infestation
  • Correct and safe branch removal without incidental tree/property damage

For additional information on these and other tree care services offered by the experts at OnTree in Toronto, please visit Services

For skilled tree pruning and tree trimming services, call the specialists at OnTree today at 416-412-2100 or contact us to request a no-obligation consultation and estimate from one of certified arborists.

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