Pruning vs. Trimming: Differences and What You Need to Know

Pruning and trimming are the primary ways to maintain trees and ensure they look good and stay healthy. While we often use these terms interchangeably, there are subtle differences between the two. As the premier Oak Island, NC tree service provider, Coastal Tree Trimmers explores pruning vs. trimming to help you understand which type of care your trees need.

What Is Tree Pruning?

Pruning is the most popular technique for maintaining trees. Its purpose is to eliminate any loose or dead branches from the tree to protect other plants and people from harm. Removing dead and loose branches also helps to provide more light and more room for new and existing branches to grow.

Pruning allows a tree’s flowers and fruits to flourish. You may also prune if you want your tree to have a specific shape for aesthetic purposes or to eliminate pest-infested and diseased branches.

To ensure the best pruning results, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Use the right kind of cut depending on your goal: Different cuts deliver different results, so you need to understand your pruning goals to determine the kind of cut you should make. Thinning cuts help promote uniform growth of the entire tree, whereas heading back or shearing cuts promote denser growth of the tree tips, resulting in a fuller and bushier look.
  • Cut carefully: You should make cuts at a 45-degree angle, close to a branch or bud.
  • Cut large branches correctly: Avoid pruning branches directly at the collar. Instead, prune them several inches out from the collar, ensuring the bark on the trunk remains intact.

What Is Tree Trimming?

Trimming helps keep trees, hedges, and shrubs looking their best by eliminating overgrown branches. Property owners often trim trees and foliage to improve their property’s visual appeal.

Trimming shrubs helps excessively dense bushes grow healthily instead of blocking sunlight and moisture from reaching their own roots. Evergreen shrubs, such as bay laurel, boxwoods, and several varieties of ficus, need regular trimming to maintain their beauty.

Trimming is generally simple as it mainly involves maintaining a plant’s size and aesthetic appeal rather than eliminating dead or diseased branches. However, it’s worth noting that the leaves of plants are their main driving force.

Trees and shrubs need sufficient foliage to absorb sunlight efficiently and produce food for growth and development. Therefore, you should be careful not to trim too much of the foliage off your trees and shrubs to ensure they have enough leaves for photosynthesis.

What Equipment Should I Use for Pruning vs. Trimming?

Hand shears and lopping shears are the most popular tools for pruning. They are strong enough to cut through thin branches. If you need to prune thick branches, consider using a saw.

Gas-powered trimmers are the most efficient equipment for trimming, but you can also use shears or saws.

Pruning vs. Trimming Frequency

The frequency of trimming or pruning varies between tree species. For example, it’s best to prune spring-flowering trees in late June, immediately after their blooming cycle.

Winter and spring are ideal for pruning summer-flowering trees. The appearance of shrubs will often determine when to trim them.

Get Professional Help with Tree Trimming and Pruning Today

While there is some overlap between the two, the main difference between pruning and trimming is that pruning helps promote safety, while trimming enhances the tree’s visual appeal. If you need to learn more about trimming and pruning, call Coastal Tree Trimmers at (910) 599-2565 to get a free quote for all your tree service needs in Oak Island, NC.

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