15 Pruning Mistakes to Avoid – You should avoid live plants.

Pruning a plant is undeniably stressful. No blooms if you prune too soon. Prune too late, and the tree may die. Never prune? As a result, overgrown plants and severely decaying tree limbs might develop. Pruning is a necessary thing in the gardening process.

Like most things in life, pruning requires effort and expertise to master. If you master the technique, your plants and trees will thrive. Remember that you can always trim more, but not less. So bide your time, do your homework, and avoid these eight trimming blunders.

Pruning Mistakes to Avoid

Here are a few frequent pruning mistakes to avoid:

  1. Pruning without a purpose: Pruning should achieve a specific aim (such as eliminating dead branches or enhancing fruit or blossom output) without compromising the plant’s overall health. Pruning without a plan causes unnecessary damage to a tree or shrub. Extensive inappropriate pruning requires time and effort to repair and, at worst, causes irreversible damage.
  1. An incorrect pruning cut: A correct pruning cut reduces tree damage and helps it to recuperate fast. A wrong cut, such as a flush cut that is too near to the trunk or a stub cut that is too far from the trunk, can cause long-term tree damage. A flush cut eliminates the branch collar while leaving a massive incision in the tree’s side that will not heal correctly. A stub cut exposes too much of a dead branch on the tree, allowing it to decay backward through the root collar and into the trunk. Both of these deadly wounds cause deterioration, which may result in death.
  1. Pruning heavily during the growing season: When a tree is heavily cut during the growing season, there is a risk of nutrition (spring to late summer). Remember that trees acquire their food from their leaves. Summer is also the most likely season for a drought to develop; a stressed tree from over-pruning will be less substantial when water is scarce. Too many branches removed might also expose previously protected bark to burning, intense sun. Sunscald will occur, which is detrimental to the plant.
  1. Using dull tools: Dull tools may appear minor, yet they can inflict substantial harm to a tree. Pruning dull tools can result in rough or incorrect cuts that rip or shred the bark, resulting in more significant wounds.
  1. Tree climbing: Topping a tree takes off the top of a tree. This method puts unnecessary stress on trees and might unbalance the tree’s structure, increasing the likelihood of falling. Topping occurs most frequently when a tree outgrows the given area, so it is critical to consider the mature tree’s height when planting it.
  1. Pruning excessively at any time of year: Over-pruning is especially crucial during the growing season, but over-pruning can stress a tree and make it more prone to disease. It’s critical to remember that every pruning cut counts since every cut is a wound on the tree. Removing branches depletes stored resources, influences future development, and decreases the photosynthetic capability of the tree. Worse, pruning allows wood-decay fungi to penetrate the tree and begin destroying it from the inside. A tree might die as a result of too many lousy pruning cuts.
  1. Pruning Too Intensively: After a long winter, it’s natural to want to get out in the yard and start snipping your shrubs into shape. But don’t allow the might of the pruning shears to go to your head. Yes, pruning may be enjoyable, but don’t overdo it unless you’re making a topiary of your hydrangea or crepe myrtle. Excessive trimming can permanently harm a plant, slow its development, and render it prone to disease.
  1. Flower Removal: It’s conceivable that you snipped the buds. Another common pruning blunder is pruning at the incorrect time of year. Most spring and early summer bloomers form their flower buds on the previous year’s growth. They are unlikely to bloom well if cut too late in the summer or before bloom season in the spring. Pruning these early bloomers should be done within a month of the end of their bloom cycle.
  1. Plants out of shape: Hedges become progressively challenging to renew foliage at the base when they are chopped inward toward the bottom. The plant’s bottom will eventually be exposed. Hedges and other manicured plants must be broader at the bottom and taper gradually toward the top for the most excellent appearance and long-term health. This form will give adequate solar exposure to the whole foliage surface, resulting in solid leaf development.
  1. Pruning Too Soon: branches, resulting in no blooms in the spring. Before you cut, do some research and then wait until the plant has finished flowering for the year. Trimming a flowering plant immediately after its final flowers vanish is always a safe bet.
  1. Bark Ripping: Plants benefit from the bark as a barrier, keeping out pests and water that might otherwise harm or kill them. Pruning haphazardly using dull tools might pull off the bark, leaving the plant open to pests and water damage.
  1. Not Using an Expert When One Is Required: While most people can shape a shrub, trimming a tree may be another task better left to the professionals. The higher the tree, the greater the risk of harm and destruction to people and property.
  1. Ineffective Technique: Cutting branches from trees and shrubs will not always produce the intended look. Doing it incorrectly may result in the ugly cut ends that remain visible for a long time, excessive water sprout development that creates an imbalanced appearance, huge scars, and so on. When removing branches, always make the last cut at the top of a branch collar, the swelling region where the branch meets the main stem, or at a node where leaves or lateral branches grow from the unit you’re cutting. New growth takes a long time to regenerate when conifers are cut beyond the growing tips. Intricate cuts should be avoided wherever possible, but if necessary, they should be done where the cut will be well concealed amid the surrounding foliage. Large, heavy branches should be slightly undercut before removal to avoid ripping the bark when the wood breaks midway through the cut.
  1. There is no pruning: While pruning might be frightening, it is essential. Plants are kept healthy, appealing, and safe by pruning in the case of trees. Gather your pruning tools and do what is best for your plants.
  1. Detail-Orientedness: It is typically a question of detail that distinguishes a well-pruned landscape from one filled with significant pruning errors. When appropriate pruning procedures are used over dubious ones, the work and money required are equivalent in the near term and significantly less in the long run. Work methodically and patiently at all times. When in doubt, conduct some study on the specific plant or topic before continuing. Remember, once it’s cut, it’s gone. Pruning blunders may be avoided with foresight and practice.

Prune at the right time: Which month is better?

  1. Winter pruning has several advantages. In northeast Ohio, winter is the dormant season for plants and trees, and it is an excellent time to prune most trees and shrubs. It makes the plant less stressed, but it also makes it easy to check the branch structure and makes dangerous illnesses less likely to spread. Trees also heal quicker if they are pruned before spring bud break.
  2. Avoid trimming in the autumn. Pruning cuts can encourage new growth, which will be terminated if temperatures dip below freezing. As the growing season comes to a close, trees and shrubs lower their energy output, so fresh growth in autumn will deplete a plant’s accumulated energy reserves. Dieback caused by a frost indicates that the energy needed for growth was squandered.
  1. Leaves and flower buds should not be clipped off. Fall trimming may destroy leaf and flower buds that have already formed on a tree during summer development. These buds remain dormant over the winter and blossom the following spring. If you remove these dormant buds, you risk missing spring blooms and forcing the plant to use more energy-producing new buds for foliage. Rhododendrons and conifers, for example, are best trimmed in late summer before they form buds for the following year. Spring-flowering trees and shrubs that are pruned in late winter or early spring will have a relative lack of blossoms. Instead, make your pruning cuts after the flowers have blossomed.
  1. When trees are susceptible to pests and disease, avoid pruning. Most importantly, if you prune at the incorrect time–even if you make decent cuts that avoid the most common faults listed here–you risk exposing your plants and trees to disease pathogens airborne or carried by insects. In northeast Ohio, for example, oak wilt and Dutch elm disease are transmitted by beetles attracted to open wounds on trees (such as fresh pruning cuts). Avoid trimming during the warmer months when the beetles are active to prevent the development of these deadly tree diseases.


  1. NO FLUSH CUTTING: The flush cut is one of the most prevalent trimming blunders. When you cut a branch flush with the bark of the tree trunk or a more extensive branch to which it is connected, you get this. While it may appear clean and streamlined, a flush cut removes the branch collar, which is required to establish a seal over the pruning cut. A flush cut allows pests and diseases to penetrate the plant and harm or kill it since the plant cannot seal over the incision. 
  •  Avoiding a flush cut is as simple as identifying the branch collar, an expanded region at the branch’s base, and cutting slightly beyond it. A pruning incision encourages the tissue in the branch collar to grow over the wound and seal it.
  1. NO STUB CUTTING: Stub cuts are the inverse of flush cuts in that they leave a projecting branch stub that the branch collar cannot grow over. 
  • To avoid stub cuts, follow this rule of thumb: If you can hang a hat on a branch stub.
  1. THERE IS NO LION TAILING: Another typical blunder is “lion tailing,” which eliminates internal branches and leaves only the leaves and grows at the branch ends. 
  • This method is not advised since too much of the tree’s foliage is gone, which is required for photosynthesis. 
  • It jeopardizes the tree’s structure by moving weight to the ends of the branches. 
  • This exposes the crown to wind and sun damage and increases the number of reactions, or stress-response, sprouts throughout the trunk and branches. These reaction shots suggest over-pruning – the tree is rapidly developing new growth to generate energy via photosynthesis.
  1. NO HEADING CUTTING: Heading cuts are physically and aesthetically harmful, especially on huge branches. A heading cut removes the terminus of a branch at random or at a branch junction, leaving only an undersized side branch developing in the opposite direction.  When you prune indiscriminately at a branch point, you encourage the creation of many little branches surrounding the wound that are not tightly linked and do not follow natural branch growth. It is both visually unappealing and dangerous to leave only a short branch at the end of a vast branch heading clipped. If you’ve ever seen a shorn forsythia or a topped tree, you know that heading cuts don’t always work out. The tangle of spindly branches that sprout from the severed branches looks ugly, but they’re also prone to falling off and will need more regular pruning to keep them in check. There are a few occasions where heading cuts are appropriate, but it is better left to a Certified Arborist who knows when, when, and why to perform those cuts.
  1. APPLY THE 3-CUT METHOD: We frequently notice shredded bark on trees after massive branches have been removed by a non-professional. Typically, this is due to their making the usual pruning error of chopping off the branch with only one cut. All pruning cuts on broad branches should be made in three steps: 
  • To begin, make a shallow incision one or two inches beyond the branch collar on the underside of the branch. If the branch falls while chopping, this will function as a barrier, avoiding a bark rip. 
  • Second, cut two to four inches past the branch collar, eliminating the branch and leaving a stub. 
  • Finally, cut the stub off slightly past the branch collar through the branch.


Pruning tools are classified into four types: pruning shears, loppers, saws, and chainsaws. The bigger the branch being chopped, the stronger the instrument should be. Hacking your way through a 3-inch branch with a lopper, for example, is likely to result in aggravation and a butchered branch that’s sensitive to illnesses and pests. Check that all cutting tools are sharp, well-tuned, and the correct size for the work.

Leave a Comment