What to know about pruning in the summer

Tree-trimming tips for using the right tools and making the right cuts.

A pair of hands pruning a bush.

Winter is typically the best time for significant pruning because trees are dormant. But minor upkeep on a nice summer day can keep your landscaping in top shape. Follow these tree-trimming tips:

Tree trimming tools

  • Hand pruner, lopper or pruning saw: A hand pruner is for stems and small branches, a lopper is for thicker branches and a pruning saw cuts through extra-large branches.
  • Protective gear: Always wear work gloves to minimize cuts and scratches. Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from sawdust and debris.
  • After use: Clean tools after trimming each tree to prevent the spread of disease. Disinfect with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water, then wash in warm, soapy water and rinse.

Trim with purpose

  • Branches:
    • Snip stray branches on a tree that's finished flowering to encourage more blooms next season.
    • Thin out branches to help trees get sufficient light and air, but avoid trimming more than 25% of a tree's green leaves.
    • Remove dead branches to keep them from breaking off and damaging your home.
  • Ornamental trees:
    • Trim ornamental trees to help them retain their shape.
  • New shoots:
    • Remove new shoots growing out of the trunk or branches. They can zap the tree's nutrients.

Make the right cuts

  • For large branches: Cut a wedge underneath the limb about six inches from the point where the branch meets the trunk (the branch collar). A few more inches out, cut vertically from the top of the limb through the branch, then cut the stub parallel to the collar.
  • Smaller branches and stems: With pruning shears, cut at a slight angle just past a healthy bud or leaf.

Get additional pruning tips from Better Homes & Gardens, Arbor Day Foundation and more summer home maintenance advice from State Farm®.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.
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