Four recommendations for proper pruning to improve tree health and increase longevity

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An ISA Certified Arborist® can determine the type of pruning necessary for health, appearance, and safety of your trees

“Pruning is a science. How tree branches are pruned influences how they stand up to gravity, wind – even dangerous ice and snow storms." - Jim Skiera, ISA Executive Director

Consumers can help their trees take shape by following proper pruning techniques, according to the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). This is especially beneficial when trees are young in order to help them grow effectively.

Tree experts say a basic understanding of tree biology when pruning helps promote and maintain a tree’s health and structure, in addition to improving the economic investment to the landscape.

“Pruning is a science,” says Jim Skiera, ISA Executive Director. “How tree branches are pruned influences how they stand up to gravity, wind – even dangerous ice and snow storms. Too much cutback creates stress in trees. It’s important to exercise caution and a little common sense, and why it may be necessary to call in a ISA certified professional for the job.”

Why prune
Trees are most commonly pruned as a corrective or preventative measure – to remove dead branches, crowded limbs and potential hazards.

When to prune
Routine pruning can be done at any time of the year. However, the benefits are maximized if trees are pruned before the spring growth occurs.

A few things to consider before pruning a tree:

  •     Always have a purpose in mind before making a cut. Each cut has the potential to change the growth of the tree.
  •     Poor pruning can cause damage that lasts for the life of the tree. Learn where and how to make the cuts before picking up the pruning tools.
  •     Trees do not heal the way people do. When a tree is wounded, it must grow over the damage. As a result, the wound is contained within the tree forever.
  •     Small cuts do less damage to the tree than large ones. Correcting issues when a tree is young will reduce the need for more drastic pruning later.

Skiera adds, “Pruning large trees can be dangerous. It usually involves working above the ground and using power equipment, like chain saws. It’s important to consider your safety, and that of your trees. Hire a professional arborist or ISA Certified Tree Worker™ because they are trained in the latest safety measures and techniques.”

The importance of proper pruning and safe work practices in trees will be topics covered in professional workshops offered for ISA Certified Arborists and Tree Workers at the upcoming International Tree Climbing Championships (ITCC) in San Antonio, Texas, April 1 – 3. This is the 40th anniversary of the ITCC, an event that continues to impact safety standards in the arboriculture industry worldwide. In addition to its education components, the ITCC features the greatest climbers in the world – both men and women – competing for the title of world champion. For tips on caring for trees or to find an ISA Certified Arborist® in your area, visit

About ISA

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), headquartered in Champaign, Ill., U.S., is a nonprofit organization supporting tree care research and education around the world. To promote the importance of arboriculture, ISA manages the consumer education website;, which fulfills the association’s mission to help educate the public about the importance and value of proper tree care. Also, as part of ISA’s dedication to the care and preservation of shade and ornamental trees, it offers the only internationally-recognized certification program in the industry. For more information on ISA and Certified Arborists, visit


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Julie Gaier
The Ritterbusch Group
+1 (262) 786-5970
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