The homeowner’s guide to tree trimming

From a standard tidy-up to an eye-sore of a tree that needs a restyle, appearance causes most home owners to seek out tree trimming services at some point.

But tree maintenance is important for reasons other than aesthetics. A lack of or improper maintenance can lead to trees becoming diseased and potentially dangerous.

Our guide to tree trimming services covers the fundamentals of tree maintenance to help you look after your trees in the best way.

In this guide, we cover:

  • The most commonly used terms and services
  • The importance of tree maintenance
  • When to trim your tree

Tree trimming services

Once you have decided to enlist a tree trimming service, the next step is to figure out what it is you need.

Familiarising yourself with the most commonly used terms and services (and the difference between them) will enable you to know and ask for the right service or understand why a tree surgeon has recommended a particular one.

What’s more, you’ll know how to take great care of your trees.


Tree trimming describes services targeted at overgrowth and aesthetics. The purpose of trimming is to tidy up the appearance of a tree. You may find the term is used interchangeably with ‘tree pruning’, but pruning refers to a different type of service (see below).

Trimming also has the benefit of promoting and stimulating the growth and general health of the tree.


Pruning refers to the removal of diseased, dead or otherwise unnecessary branches.

Its main purpose is to prevent harm as unhealthy branches are prone to breaking unexpectedly or spreading diseases throughout the tree.

On top of having a different aim to tree trimming, pruning also utilises different methods. That said, both have the same result which is a healthy, aesthetically pleasing tree.

Crown thinning

Crown thinning is the selective removal of stems and branches from a tree to produce a uniform
structure. The overall shape and structure of the tree remain the same, with only dead, weak, overreaching or duplicate branches targeted for removal.

tree crown thinning

It’s often used to allow more light to pass through the tree or to protect the tree from heavy winds by enabling better air movement.

Crown lift / raise

A crown lift involves the removal of the tree’s lower branches to lift the height of the base of the crown. The goal is to increase the clearance between the lower branches and the ground to increase access under the tree, as well as improve views and light transmission.

Crown reduction

This refers to a reduction in the height or spread of a tree’s crown. It is more aggressive than the other services and the nature of the cuts required can put considerable stress on the tree.

Instances where it may be necessary include:

  • Rebalancing a misshapen crown
  • Making a tree more suitable for its environment
  • Reducing the weight of potentially dangerous branches


Deadwooding removes dead limbs and branches to preserve the health of a tree. Dead limbs, if left, may cause rot and fungus to spread throughout the tree.

They can also attract pests and insects or break off unexpectedly, posing a risk to passers-by.

The importance of tree maintenance

As well as the appearance, there are other reasons to consider using a tree trimming service. These include:

Growth control

Trimming a tree has a direct impact on the way a tree grows. The correct care encourages and stimulates a tree’s growth rate.

Maintain overall health

Tree trimming services help to maintain a tree’s overall health by responding to or removing any problems, (such as dead, infected or excess branches).

Stop the spread of diseases

If a small part of a tree is infected, the best way to treat the problem is to remove the infected part (before it spreads to the rest of the tree and you have to have the tree removed).

Ensure safety

Non-trimmed trees or improperly trimmed trees may lead to a branch structure with improper weight distribution. This could lead to the risk of heavy branches falling or breaking off unexpectedly. Pruning will help to prevent accidents by removing any high-risk branches.

Is there a right time to trim your trees?

The ideal time to trim a tree depends on the species of tree.

However, as a rule of thumb, a good time to consider trimming is winter or early spring. Most trees are dormant in this period, so if you undertake any kind of maintenance work at this point, the result is normally a fresh burst of life in the growing season.

Always avoid any work during the autumn. Trimming or pruning a tree in autumn will stimulate new growth as the trees prepare to go dormant. This will severely weaken the trees, any cuts will heal more slowly and there will be an increased chance of infection or infestation.

So now you have a better idea of what you’re looking for, the final step is to know how much it will cost.

For more information on tree trimming rates, head over to our tree trimming cost guide.

To get quotes from tree surgeons near you – post a job now.

Ready to get quotes from tree surgeons (it's free)?