Does Your Tree Need Pruning? 5 Warning Signs to Watch

by Allen Quay

in General Topics

While not all trees require pruning services, in some cases, pruning may be necessary for the tree’s health or for general safety reasons. To determine whether a tree needs pruning, you should be on the lookout for certain warning signs.


The trees on your property may require pruning if:


  1. There are power lines within 10 feet or closer to the tree, particularly if the utility lines are connected to the house. The same goes for rooftops. Those branches can pose a serious hazard, particularly during storms.
  2. The tree’s branches at least partly obstruct any street signs.
  3. There’s a lot of large dead wood—pay particular attention to any dead branches with a significant diameter of a couple of inches or more.
  4. The tree is diseased, insect-infested, or dying. Also, if the tree’s branches appear to be drooping, it may be necessary to prune them in order to improve the tree’s health.
  5. Fungi on the tree trunk may also indicate a problem—it’s worth inspecting, just to be on the safe side. (Moss generally doesn’t pose a threat, but some prefer to have it removed for aesthetic reasons.)


Proper pruning will keep your trees healthy and your property looking great—and it will help prevent accidents as well. And remember—it’s best (for your safety as well as the tree’s) to leave specialized pruning jobs to qualified professionals–especially if there are power lines nearby.


Also, keep in mind that you may need to get a permit from the city beforehand  if a tree requires removal or a great deal of pruning.


For smaller, less hazardous pruning of ornamental trees and shrubs you may want to understand some basic pruning tips. The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service offers an excellent downloadable PDF called Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs. Their 12 page guide covers the reasons to prune, the best times to prune, the proper tools for pruning and much more.


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