Friday 14 June 2024
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Trimming vs Pruning – They Are Not the Same Thing

Trimming vs Pruning – They Are Not the Same Thing


Trimming and pruning are important plant care practices required to maintain a healthy and beautiful landscape garden. If you have started the hobby of gardening not too long ago, you might confuse the two terms and even believe both to be the same. However, trimming and pruning are two different plant care practices that are required for different purposes. We suggest you search “tree service near me” online to hire arborists in your region and allow them to help you maintain the health of your garden when you are just getting started.

Hiring professional help will also allow you to witness first-hand how both tree maintenance services are performed and get a better understanding of the differences between them. However, if you want to perform the job yourself, it is important to understand how trimming and pruning are different and when to prune or trim a tree.

What is trimming?

Trimming is a practice that refers to the cutting of the branches of overgrown shrubs, bushes, and other plants in order to shape them in a specific manner or maintain a specific size. Although trimming trees can provide many health benefits to the plants, it is primarily done for cosmetic reasons or to enhance the aesthetic value of the plant.

Regular trimming offers many preventive health benefits to the shrubs and bushes. For instance, it helps to reduce the risk of pest and insect infestations and diseases and also reduces the risk of large branches that can fall due to their own weight. Trimming is also used to maintain ‘living fences’ and create privacy using properly trimmer shrubs since they have a good density.

The common tools required for trimming include hedge trimmers such as gas-powered trimmers, cordless hedge trimmers, and corded electric hedge trimmers.

What is pruning?

Pruning is a practice that refers to the selective removal of dead, loose, decaying, or diseased parts of a plant such as the flowers, branches, buds, and roots in order to keep them healthy, increase their yield, prepare them for transplanting, and also to make them look more attractive.

Pruning is both a reactionary and preventive approach to maintaining the health and aesthetic appeal of the plant. For instance, pruning is done after you notice the presence of deceased or dead branches but removing them helps to prevent the spread of diseases any further. As a result, it helps to grow healthier plants.

Pruning is a more complicated and specialized approach as opposed to trimming trees since you have to perform seasonal pruning on selective plants to keep them healthy all year round and follow different pruning methods in different seasons.

The common tools required for pruning include pruning shears (secateurs, clippers, pruners) such as anvil pruners, bypass pruners, and ratchet pruners.

When and how often to perform trimming vs pruning

Generally, trimming is done once or twice a year while pruning is done when required to preserve the health of plants or depending on the seasonal requirements of the plants. However, evergreen plants such as bay laurel, boxwoods, and many varieties of Ficus require periodic trimming to preserve their aesthetic value and beauty.

One thing that you should keep in mind while performing trimming is that you should never cut too much foliage since trees and shrubs require the leaves to absorb sunlight and perform photosynthesis. If you trim too deeply, the shrubs can die due to not having enough leaves to perform photosynthesis.

Seasonal pruning guide

It is necessary to learn which plants to prune in which season to ensure you don’t accidentally harm the plants or cause more damage trying to save the plants. In fact, it is not a necessity to prune all types of plants in every season.

Here are a few things you should know about pruning in different seasons:

  1. Spring pruning – Young fruit trees, spring-flowering non-fruiting shrubs, woody perennial herbs, hedges and topiaries, and conifers can be pruned during the spring season to prepare them for growth. It is also a good time to get rid of diseased and dead growths on plants.
  1. Summer pruning – During the summer, the plant life thrives in full bloom. However, some sections of the plants may not be doing well if they are not able to receive proper sunlight due to too much shrubbery and growth.

It is important to cut off and manage such cluttered areas of your garden to ensure every plant and shrub receives the optimum sunlight and grows well.

  1. Fall pruning – Generally, it is recommended that you avoid pruning trees during the fall season since it encourages new growth; something that you don’t want when the weather gets colder. However, it is still a good practice to prune diseased perennials during the fall in order to remove dead limbs from plants. You should also prune plants that attract slugs.


  1. Winter pruning – Although it may seem counterintuitive to prune trees during the winter, it is certainly a good time to prune plants. The lack of leaves on many deciduous trees and bushes during this period makes it easier to carefully prune them since you can see their structure easily. It also encourages the strong growth of the plant during the following spring season.

It is also important to remove any dead or diseased limbs to create space for the branches that are healthy and allow them to grow more freely.

Trimming or pruning small trees and shrubs can be performed quite easily by experienced homeowners. If you are just getting started with the task, you can watch a few YouTube tutorials to understand how to perform the tasks or even seek a friendly neighborhood gardening enthusiast to teach you.


However, sometimes, you might need to hire the help of experts when large-scale tree pruning, or trimming is required, or the job poses a safety risk. To hire arborists in your area, you can simply search “tree service near me” on Google. Ensure you check their credentials, licensing, and insurance documents before hiring any service.

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