Everything You Need to Know about Trimming Your Trees

Trimming your trees is an important part of keeping them healthy, and keeping your property clean from falling branches. By trimming and pruning your trees, we help homeowners by removing diseased, damaged, dead or weak branches so that trees can grow to be healthier. Homeowners also sometimes just want trees or branches removed for cosmetic reasons. Perhaps they are planning on putting something else in its place or they just need the open space. Either way, trimming trees can help yards look clean and beautiful.

But trimming your trees isn’t as simple as it might sound. There are various techniques that you need to consider when pruning and trimming, and knowing these terms can help you communicate better with the arborist involved, or even start to learn some of the basics of pruning yourself. We’ve put together this guide of some of the most common terms and their meaning, so take a look, you might just learn something.

What is a Scaffold Branch?

Scaffold branches are the largest main branches that attach directly to the trunk of the tree.

What are Lateral Branches?

Lateral branches, also called secondary branches, stem from scaffold branches.

What is a Leader Stem?

The leader stem is the continuation of the trunk stem once it branches off at the top.

What is “Deadwooding”?

Perhaps one of the easiest terms on the list, dead-wooding is just what it sounds like. In this process we remove branches that are sick, dying or already dead to help take weight off the tree.

What is “Heading Back”?

This is the name for when we remove the limb that sits just above a lateral bud. We use this cut to produce more growth, which ends up stemming from the place of the cut. This is an important technique to use if a certain area of a tree or shrub is in need of fuller growth in a specific area.

What is “Pinching”

We use this particular cut at the top of a growing branch to stimulate the growth of new leaves and blossoms in certain areas where there may not be enough.

Thinning Cuts or Thinning Out

Sometimes certain areas of the tree or shrub are too dense, and in this case we use thinning cuts. In this situation, branches are removed at their point of origin, or they are shortened in length. This sometimes helps preserve the shape of a tree as well.

What is “Topping off” or “Canopy Reduction”?

This is when large branches at the top of the tree are shortened, usually to reduce how much shade it produces or to prevent obstruction. This technique is highly discouraged in the arborist community because it harms the tree and leaves it vulnerable to predatory insects and diseases. Although it’s effective in shortening the tree, it won’t be long before the tree loses its health and needs to be completely removed.