Trimming vs Pruning: Not the Same Thing

Trimming vs Pruning: Not the Same Thing

The differences between trimming and pruning are worth looking into in order to keep your trees and shrubs in the best condition possible. Below you will find everything you need to know about the difference between trimming vs pruning. We will also give you some tips on how to properly trim and prune your trees and shrubs.

Trimming vs Pruning: Not the Same Thing


Pruning is used to remove unnecessary branches. Late winter and early spring is the best time to prune plants like shrubs. During this time, the plants are still in full dormancy but are preparing to yield new growth. Keep in mind that if your shrub is a spring-blooming variety, make sure to leave behind enough flower buds on the stems for spring flowering.

The Proper Way of Pruning

Get rid of any dead limbs near the base, so sunlight can reach the entire plant. Cut no more than one-third of the plant each year. The holes that you are creating by pruning, will encourage new growth, making the plant fuller and stronger. Always cut back to a lateral branch, bud, or the main branch.

You should remove dying, dead or diseased branches as soon as you notice them. This will help make sure that the disease does not spread to the other branches. Removing dead or diseased branches will also help the plant to focus more on producing new and healthy growth. Make sure to remove branches that cross each other or take off at least one of the offenders. Branches that chafe create an access point for insects and disease. The same goes for branches growing downwards. As soon as the branches touch the ground, the plant can be exposed to pests and diseases.

Plants You Don’t Prune in the Winter

Do not prune stone fruits, like cherries or plums, as they are prone to be infected by a fungal disease called Silver Leaf. Prune them only in early or midsummer.


When it comes to pruning, shears are the tool of choice. Start by using hand shears or lopping shears. These shears are generally strong enough to cut through thin branches. Thick branches need to be cut with a saw.


Trimming promotes healthy growth and tidies up trees, shrubs or hedges. Gardeners usually trim their plants for aesthetic purposes. Keep in mind that an overgrown plant is harmful since it decreases the amount of moisture and light a shrub receives.

How to Trim Your Hedge

When your hedge has woody, yellowish or unkempt branches, it is time for a good trim. Maintenance trimming is usually done once a year for informal hedges and two or three times a year for formal hedges. Trimming of an established hedge normally needs to be done between spring and summer.

Trimming Tools

Hand-held shears are adequate for smaller hedges. However, for large hedges, you will find it easier to use an electric or gas-powered hedge trimmer. Always think of safety when using a powered hedge trimmer, and wear safety goggles, and durable gloves. When using a hedge trimmer, keep the blade parallel to the hedge and use a wide, sweeping motion, working from the bottom of the hedge upwards. This will ensure the cut foliage falls away.

Which method is right for your plants?

The best way to determine the exact method for your plants is to consider their immediate needs. Are there certain branches that are dead, dying, or likely to start soon? If the plant or tree in question doesn’t have any specific branches in need of removal, then a nice trim may be in order.

All plants and trees can benefit from pruning. Some plants are known to thrive off of regular pruning. For most plants, a combination of the two methods at different times is beneficial.

Additional Reading: Timing of Pruning Tips

Tree Services of Omaha

Tree Services of Omaha, Nebraska is a full-service tree care provider that offers a wide range of arborist services including but not limited to: Tree Removal Services, Tree Trimming, Tree Pruning, Tree and shrubs Shaping, Stump Removal, Stump Grinding, Arborist Consultations, Systemic Tree Injections.

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