The Art and Science of Fine Pruning

Fine Pruning is truly an art.

What makes it an art? Well, our object in fine pruning is to give a tree or shrub the finest architecture and engineered structure we can, while respecting the fact that it is a living creature, and thus has specific needs and limitations.


Those who are not sufficiently trained may often accomplish part of the mission of fine pruning, but fall short of acheiving the desired results. It is possible to achieve a nice look while doing irreparable harm. Conversely, it is possible to achieve healthy structure while destroying the ornamental value of the plant. Not everyone who agrees to "trim" or prune your trees is qualified to do so.

The "Problem" With Pruning

Pruning is one of the many undertakings in life that appear rather simple, but are actually quite complicated. The problem, especially with fine pruning, is that this task requires artistic engineering. Most people do not have artistic engineering as part of their skill set, and thus it is very easy for pruning to go awry, for things not to turn out quite the way they should.

Fine pruning, therefore, has several prerequisites:

  • An eye for design
    • After all, a talented pruner is going to "design" your plant
  • An understanding of plant biology
    • What looks great now might look terrible later, when the plant responds
  • Knowledge of the plant's current state of health
    • One must remember that every cut being made is a wound; plants are living things.
  • Knowledge of the Species' regenerative capacity
    • What is a mere "haircut" for one tree may well be fatal to another
  • Comprehension of plant anatomy
    • Anyone can make a cut; how the cut is may determine if the tree has a future
  • Training in the ANSI A300 Part 1 Standards
    • These standards are based on solid science and accepted as the gold standard of care by professional arborists.