Tree Trimming vs Tree Pruning: What’s the Difference?

Tree trimming vs tree pruning. What exactly is the difference? At first glance, tree trimming and tree pruning might appear to be interchangeable terms. However, there are subtle differences. If you’re a homeowner with trees on your property, you will need to become well acquainted with the differences to ensure your trees stay in peak condition.

What Is Tree Trimming??

Tree trimming is, first and foremost, about aesthetics. Trimming helps maintain a tree’s shape and appearance. It mostly involves thinning out branches that have become overgrown. Without proper trimming, branches will grow unevenly, in various directions. This can leave your trees looking misshapen and scraggly. It also affects the health of your tree, as well as that of any nearby plants as overgrowth of branches can prevent necessary access to moisture, nutrients, and light. Proper tree trimming should remove any broken or dead branches, raise the canopy, and allow more light and air around the tree. How often you trim your trees will depend on personal preferences. Typically, it is only done once or twice a year. The amount and type of trimming that you can do will depend on a variety of factors:

  • - How safe and stable is the area around the tree?
  • - How stable is the tree itself?
  • - What does the weather look like?
  • - What season is it? Trimming a tree at the wrong time of year can severely affect its health.

Finally, how healthy is the tree? Trees don’t do much, but they are living organisms. As such, any time you cut into a tree, it can have long-term effects on the tree’s health. If the tree is already under stress or has any health issues, trimming might damage it irreparably. You need to understand everything that’s happening to and around the tree. That is why it is always advisable to work with a certified arborist when doing any tree care. These professionals are trained to identify the signs of disease, insect infestation, and environmental stressors. They can also diagnose poor drainage, soil condition, plant competition — all the things that affect a tree’s health and growth. Without taking these factors into account in a holistic way, you risk damaging or even killing your tree. No matter how beautiful and well-done a trim might be, it’s not going to be of any use if the tree’s health is compromised.

What Is Tree Pruning?

Proper tree pruning is key to keeping your tree healthy. The primary goal of pruning is to remove any branches that prevent the tree from growing to its full potential. These include:

  • - Dead branches
  • - Diseased branches
  • - Loose branches
  • - Branches that cross over each other
  • - And more

It can be difficult for an untrained eye to identify which branches should be removed to improve the health of a tree. Furthermore, tree pruning needs to be done at specific times of the year, depending on the plant species. This is why it is absolutely essential to hire a professional arborist when considering any tree pruning. When done correctly, pruning can:

  • - Protect against pests
  • - Help a tree fight against disease
  • - Promote strong growth
  • - Promote strong growth
  • - Optimize fruit yields

However, if pruning is done incorrectly, the tree’s growth may be stunted, and it’s health compromised. Incorrect pruning can even encourage pests and disease. In the worst cases, it can lead to the death of the tree.


In summary, what is the difference between tree trimming vs tree pruning? Tree trimming is primarily aesthetic, while tree pruning is about optimizing the tree’s health. Both are tasks that are best handled by certified arborists. By working with a professional, you’ll give your trees the best chance at looking beautiful, and growing strong.