Pruning vs. Trimming – Now You Know The Difference!

Pruning vs. trimming; is there any difference? Well, I know that most people cannot tell the difference between the two. A while back I was one of those people too.

However, times have changed and in this article, I will discuss how pruning is different from trimming, the techniques applied in each, and where these practices apply.


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Pruning vs. Trimming: Explained in Detail


Pruning Sheers on a log

Pruning is applied to trees and shrubs as a maintenance practice to stimulate growth.

The idea is to prevent dead parts from affecting other plants and the environment in general.

For example, if a tree has an infected branch, pruning it will prevent the disease from infecting the other parts of the tree. Additionally, pruning gets rid of loose branches to prevent unforeseen accidents.

Tools for Pruning

Pruning requires specific tools for quality results. Hand shears and looping shears are common pruning tools. Hand shears are small and are used for cutting tiny, easy-to-remove buds and leaves. These are lightweight and can be used with one hand.

Looping shears are longer, with a handle between 1 to 2 feet long. These are great at cutting off thick branches. This type of shears requires extra effort and force when cutting.

The Importance of Pruning

Now that you understand the technique, what is the importance of pruning? Well, pruning affects the general health of the tree and how it grows.

Does pruning trees encourage growth? Proper pruning helps the tree to grow in an ideal structure that is safe and aesthetically pleasing. It improves the health of the tree by getting rid of unwanted and infected branches.

Another benefit is to keep other plants and people around it safe. The thought of a tree branch falling while passing under a tree is not pleasing at all. A dead branch gets loose and, if not cut, may fall and harm people, cars, and buildings.

Pruning vs. trimming shrubs; whichever you choose, be sure to do it correctly. Pruning is recommended in cases where there are infected or dead branches. Cutting these prevents spreading the disease to the other parts to keep the shrub in the best state of health.

The Best Time to Prune

Pruning time varies depending on the health, structure, and type of the tree. However, it is advisable to prune trees during the dormant stage. This is towards the end of fall and during winter. At this time, trees are less susceptible to stress and can handle pruning.

When the tree is dormant, less sap is lost. Additionally, insects and fungus are less likely to attach the point of pruning. Some trees require routine pruning while others can go for years untouched. The most important thing to keep in mind, therefore, is to ensure pruning is done correctly.


Woman trimming a bush

Trimming is more of a tidy-up method to short hedges and shrubs.

The main reason is to remove overgrown branches to enhance the shape of fences and shrubs.

Trimming is mainly for aesthetic purposes. Most gardeners trim to control the shape of the hedges while removing overcrowded branches.

Trimming Tools

Trimming requires saws and hedge trimmers. These are available in various designs and sizes. The most common ones are gas-powered and electric trimmers. The choice of saw or trimmer you need depends on the size of trees or hedges.

The Importance of Trimming

Like pruning, trimming enhances the health of the hedge. Removing overgrown branches creates space and encourages air circulation for growth. Trimming, as much as it is an aesthetic practice, helps to improve the structure of your hedge.

On this note, trimming allows you to shape the hedge and control how high or wide it grows.

Tree trimming vs. tree pruning; which one should you choose? The state of the tree determines whether you need to prune or trim. Trimming allows the tree to fill in better and enhance privacy in the case of a fence hedge.

Trimming hedges is required from time to time to enhance safety. Think of an overgrown hedge along the driveway. It does not look like much, but the protruding branches may raise a safety concern. I would hate to think of branches scratching my car along the driveway.

Trimming trees and hedges result in an aesthetically-pleasing environment. There are healthier branches, well-manicured fences, and fuller trees.

When Is The Best Time To Trim?

Depending on the state of the trees and hedges, trimming may be required regularly. Some hedges blossom during the summer requiring a trim every few weeks. Others grow slowly and take shape differently reducing the number of trims needed.

Trimming, like pruning, should be done when trees are dormant and less prone to infections. But, since trimming does not involve cutting off the entire branch, it is okay to trim when needed. However, precautions must be put in place to prevent extensive damage to the tree.


Frequently asked questions

What Is The Difference Between Pruning And Trimming?

Pruning involves cutting off dead branches from hedges and trees. Trimming, on the other hand, requires clipping overgrown branches.

Both practices aim at improving the health of the tree. However, pruning is more of once-in-a-while maintenance practice, while trimming can be done regularly.

How Do You Prune a Tree?

Cutting off a dead branch from a tree requires keen attention to avoid damage. It is advisable to make the first cut further away from the trunk to prevent the bark from peeling down the trunk.

After this, you can then make the final cut past the branch collar. It is the swollen area where the branch joins the trunk.

How Do You Trim a Tree?

Before trimming an overgrown branch, it is essential to identify the shape and structure of the tree or hedge. This way, it is easier to identify the trimming point.

Additionally, when trimming, cut a bud to prevent the left stem from withering and dying.

Can Branches Grow Back After Pruning?

Correctly pruned branches do not grow back. Instead, the tree grows a stump-like closure over the cut. This helps to protect the tree from infection and decay.

Does Pruning Encourage The Growth Of A Tree?

When you cut a branch growing in one direction, you stimulate growth in another direction. Pruning dictates the direction the tree takes.

It also helps raise the crown of the tree, higher stimulating growth lengthwise.

Is It Okay To Trim Hedges In The Summer?

Hedges that need to stay in a distinct shape require trimming throughout the summer. This is the growing season, and hedges are likely to flourish better than the other seasons.

However, if the hedges are the flowering type, you need to be careful not to trim off the buds.

Can Trimming a Hedge Kill It?

Proper trimming helps to improve the health of the hedge. However, over-trimming can damage healthy branches and result in drying.

When trimming, you should only focus on the overgrown branches while maintaining the shape of the hedge. You might have to wait until the branches are long enough to prevent damaging the sprouting ones.


Pruning vs. trimming; the difference is in the technique, tools used, and the condition of the tree.

Pruning comes in handy to remove dead branches and stimulate the growth of the tree. Trimming helps to improve the appearance of shrubs, hedges, and trees by clipping off overgrown branches.

I hope this article has helped you understand better the differences between both. But if you have any other questions, I encourage you to contact us! :)

Andy Gibson

My name's Gibson. Andy Gibson. I like to think of myself as the Bond of the backyard, that is if yard work ever became sexy. I write about everything about indoor and outdoor gardening and the dread-it-but-still-need-to-do-it chores around the yard, like cleaning out the gutter guards.

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