Trimming or pruning a tree doesn’t seem that difficult but do it wrong and you could end up with an ugly looking tree or even a damaged tree. There are right and wrong ways to prune a tree if you just start clipping away and hacking at every branch you don’t like, you could do more damage and completely negate the benefits you were trying to produce.

Tree pruning doesn’t have to be a professional job, even though having it professionally done means that it is done right, but there are mistakes you can avoid simply by trying not to make these five most common mistakes.

5 Common Tree Pruning Mistakes Homeowners Make

#1. Clipping the tips of every branch.

Trying to create a shape with a tree is difficult enough, especially when the tree wants to do whatever it wants to do, but just clipping the tips of the tree will actually make it fuller and bushier without proper pruning technique. Many people think that just making smaller cuts is better than cutting off large chunks but in reality, just cutting the tips of the branches is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. It prompts growth and when you just clip the tip, five or six more tips will grow in its place. It’s best to be methodical about your pruning and really take a look at where you want to prune before just hacking away at the thing.

#2. Topping the tree.

This is one of the worst things that you can do and a lot of people don’t even realize it. They think if the tree is in the way let’s just cut off the top. But removing the top of the tree could cause several new leaders to replace it and it could end up bigger and fuller than you wanted. The tree should have one dominant trunk in the center, which can help it weather storms and grow much healthier. The last thing you should do is top a tree.

[Read More: Should I ever cut a tree’s roots?]

#3. Cutting at the wrong spot.

Shoots, which come from the main limb and directly shoot straight up out of the tree should be pruned as this is an unhealthy behavior of the tree but, you don’t have to go as close to the tree trunk as possible to remove the entire limb either. Every branch has a “collar”, which is an elevated bump in the trunk where it intersects with the branch. This is made up of different cells that can help the wound heal after a branches cut off. If you cut off the collar the wound can’t heal. This could result in insects and disease, damaging the tree even further and possibly killing it. It’s important to cut at the right spot.

5 Common Tree Pruning Mistakes Homeowners Make

#4. Over pruning.

Removing too much of the tree at one time is also unhealthy. You should only remove 15 to 20% of a tree at any given time. It’s even better to keep that number on the lower end, say closer to 5 to 10%. If you prune too much, you could restrict the tree’s ability to produce and transfer food, which stunts the growth of the tree.

#5. Pruning at the wrong time of year.

It can be very tempting to cut off certain parts of the tree that are going crazy during the spring and summer months, but this is actually the worst time to prune a tree. New growth on conifer trees is derived from buds on the end of branches that formed in the previous growth season. If you remove those buds, it could result in a permanent stub that would be brown and ugly. It’s important to wait until fall or before buds come out in the spring to prune.

And finally, one of the best tips is to simply let a professional do it. Even if you have a couple of fruit trees in the backyard, conifer in the front yard, or some trees that are touching the house and leaning over a bit too far, it’s best to let a professional handle it. The last thing you want is to damage the tree or kill it altogether. Give us a call for a free quote on professional tree trimming and pruning in your area.