Tree Trimming Basics


If you’ve got dead limbs, branches growing into power lines, branches overhanging your house, or tree growth that obstruct visibility for vehicles and pedestrians, it’s time to do some tree trimming.

Home insurer says there are three basic reasons for trimming your trees. In order of importance, they are:

  1. Falling tree branches are dangerous for anyone on your property and can cause damage to your home.
  2. Tree health. Dead or diseased branches harm the tree. Pruning helps the tree develop core strength.
  3. Trimmed trees are more attractive and grow healthier fruit, flowers and leaves.

You can trim trees yourself with the proper tools, such as loppers, 12-14-and 16 foot tree pruners, hand pruners, etc., as long as you don’t need to get on a tall ladder, but trees taller than your extension pole are best left to professionals.

According to, you can expect to pay an average of $460 but up to $1,500 for professional pruning of a tall tree such as an oak or pine. Tree removal begins at $750, but make sure that any quote you receive includes stump grinding, clean up and hauling away debris.

If you choose to trim your trees by yourself, an excellent resource is the USDA publication How to Prune Trees. It provides a safe size guide for cutting branches no larger than four inches in diameter. Anything larger, contact an arborist. A good rule is that if you wonder whether to cut a branch, don’t.

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