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Tree Pruning vs. Trimming vs. Shaping

If you aren’t a landscaping expert or an arborist, you may mistakenly believe that tree trimming and tree pruning are the same thing. However, each is done for different reasons, at different times, and with different types of equipment. So, what exactly is the difference between pruning vs. trimming? And what about shaping? Read on below to find out more.

What Is the Difference Between Pruning vs. Trimming?

Tree pruning is a service done to protect a tree or shrub and what it grows and keep it healthy and thriving. Tree trimming, on the other hand, is primarily to ensure proper growth and to stop or prevent overgrowth.

What Are the Benefits of Tree Pruning?

Tree pruning involves removing any dead or diseased branches. This is one of the ways it ensures optimal future health. Pruning also promotes the best possible fruit or flower growth.

By removing the diseased branches, tree pruning makes sure all the nutrients, sunlight, moisture, and so forth go to the branches that actually need it.

What Are the Benefits of Tree Trimming?

Overgrown trees and trees with branches growing in strange directions are not visually pleasing. It can also cause the tree to be misshapen. Tree trimming takes care of that unsightly overgrowth. But this service does more than just provide a better look.

Tree trimming also has benefits for the health and safety of the trees. Overgrowth can prevent the overgrown trees and the other trees and plants surrounding them from getting enough water, sunlight, and nutrients. And it can leave trees weaker and unbalanced. This puts it more at risk of damaging your property. For instance, if any of your trees are growing near electrical wires, you’ll want to be sure to keep an eye out and keep them under control.

What Is the Best Time for Tree Pruning vs. Trimming?

Usually, it’s recommended to have your trees trimmed just once or twice a year. Overdoing it can also harm their growth.

Pruning is usually done annually. With tree pruning, experts recommend certain periods throughout the year. This is to ensure the best possible growth and can depend on the type of tree. For example, spring-flowering trees should be pruned in the spring or summer months. The exact time period can be determined by the tree’s blooming cycle. Many recommend June, which is usually after this cycle or sometime in the middle of summer in general.

For trees that produce flowers or fruit in the summer, pruning should be done in the fall or winter. Trees are usually more fragile in the colder months. This is another reason you should hand the job to a professional tree service.

What Equipment Is Used for Tree Pruning vs. Trimming?

Hand shears and lopping shears are commonly used in pruning. Hand shears are usually used on the thinner, easier-to-reach branches. Lopping shears are incredibly powerful. They can cut through thick branches with no problem. Lopping shears also can come with attachments that make it easier to reach higher branches.


Hand shears can be used in tree trimming as well, as they’re great for taking care of smaller branches. They are also heavy-duty gas tree trimmers that are used for more difficult branches.

In both cases, a chainsaw will usually be used. And a heavy-duty extension ladder to reach the top of the taller trees is necessary. Not to mention important safety equipment. If you try to buy or rent all of this yourself, it can really add up. A professional tree service company will already have all this equipment and more.

This equipment can seriously damage trees if not used properly and carefully. Also, if you handle them on your own with little to no experience, you can risk injuring yourself, so pay attention to safety.

Can I Prune or Trim Trees Myself?

In both cases, the equipment used and skills needed to perform these services should unquestionably be done by a professional tree service. With pruning and trimming, you need to be as careful as possible. If you try to do it yourself and wound the tree, it could lead to serious damage and even tree death.

A mistake made while pruning can really stunt the growth of the tree’s flower or fruit production. And pruning too much can also do serious damage. In some cases, it can even cause pests, disease, and death. That’s why it’s not a task for amateurs.

Since pruning and trimming both have risks, make sure the company you hire has liability insurance and that their technicians are licensed and experienced. A legitimate company should be able to produce documentation of this.

Hiring a company like Mr. Tree, with years of experience, ensures you’ll get the best results.

What Is Tree Shaping?

Shaping is another tree service that can be mistakenly lumped in with trimming and pruning. Of the two, it is closer to trimming. Both services are used to remove unsightly branches and overgrowth. But tree shaping can go a step further. It’s a service used to turn your trees into artistic, aesthetically pleasing designs. These can be structural, functional, or very artistic.

This is definitely a type of tree service to go to a professional for. The best tree shaping results come from someone who knows how the tree will grow, how it will be affected by weather and other factors, and how it can remain as healthy as possible.

This service is great for attracting people. For instance, it can be used when trying to sell a home or commercial property. Or it can be a way to make your residential or commercial property really stand out. Overgrown, uncared-for trees are not the most attractive look.

Here at Mr. Tree, we offer expert service and advice, all for a great rate. Thanks to our extensive experience and expertise, we’ll be able to tell which of your trees need pruning vs. trimming. You can find out more information on pruning, trimming, shaping, and our other tree services on our website.