Prudent Pruning: Smart Strategies to Prune Right All Year Long

Pruning: You know it’s important, but you’re not quite sure how to get the job done.

Oh sure, there are a few common rules. For trees that flower in spring, prune after they’re done putting on the show. For those that flower in summer, prune them in late winter or early spring, before bud break.

It’s not always so clear which approach to take, though, especially when trees don’t have showy flowers, or when their blooms crop up at that gray area between spring and summer. That’s why we’re here with a specific tutorial for five of Georgia’s most popular trees. Ready? Go.

Red Maple

This tree produces a lot of sap, and you don’t want to prune when it’s running quickly, because that exposes the tree to disease. Instead, wait until late spring or early summer, when sap calms down. Then prune the tree for shape, removing branches that clog the inner structures and following the natural lines of the tree.

American Sycamore

Sycamore likes to be pruned when it is dormant, so shoot for late fall after all the trees drop or winter before budbreak. Prune to remove dead branches, then to thin the tree and improve its natural shape. Avoid topping or cutting off limbs if you can help it.

Black Tupelo

Also known as the black gum, this tree tends to develop low-growing branches that can impede cars or people. Start by pruning those off in November, after the tree has gone dormant. Then prune for shape, remove dead branches and clutter, and create openness for light among the branches.

American Holly

Holly likes to be pruned in late winter. This encourages new growth in spring, and gives your holly that cheerful bright-green on dark-green appeal. Make sure you don’t cut off any brown wood unless you really mean to; it won’t regrow. Feel free to cut back as far as you like into the green branches, however, to achieve the shape you want.

Southern Magnolia

Magnolia is slow to heal from pruning, so ideally, don’t do it. When you have to, do it after bloom in spring or summer so they have time to rest up and heal before winter.

Note that once these trees are full-grown, you only need to prune when a limb is diseased or dying, or when a limb develops a weak crotch (one that grows too close to or too perpendicular from the trunk). Otherwise, you can let these trees take care of themselves and focus on the young ones you’re still training.

One parting piece of advice? If it’s a big tree and you can’t reach all its branches effectively, or if you simply don’t have the required expertise to prune properly, get some here. The pros here at Premier Tree Solutions are happy to help, so please feel free to get in touch today.

Top Tips: Why You Should NEVER Top Your Trees

Walk down many a residential street in Georgia, and a sad sight will meet your eyes: rows upon rows of topped trees marching down the street. When the tree is in leaf, this manifests as a weird, flat crown with leaves and shoots pointing straight upward. In winter, the result is knobby limbs that end in large, unhealthy-looking bulges.

That’s because those trees are unhealthy. While topping is still promoted by some arborists, most now know that it’s a mistake. It destroys fall displays, makes trees more susceptible to damage in winter, and ruins their look. Here’s why you should avoid this move at all costs, and what to do instead.

What is Topping?

Topping, explains the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension, “is where trees are trimmed back to a few large diameter, older structural limbs.” The person topping the tree uses loppers or a chainsaw to cut off limbs regardless of their health, the position on the branch or the needs of the tree.

Why Do People Top Trees?

As the NC Cooperative Extension says, “Maybe you’re worried about limbs or the entire tree falling on your house during an ice storm, blocking your mountain view, or just creating too much shade in the yard.” In an effort to get those “nuisance” branches out of the way, they simply mow the tops off.

Why Should You Avoid Topping at All Costs?

Unfortunately, topping is a terrible idea. It:

  • Forces the tree to compensate by producing unsightly vertical shoots that block the view anyway
  • Produces quick-growing new limbs that are structurally weak and pose a danger
  • Stresses trees and makes them more prone to disease
  • Removes too much of the leafy part of the tree, which reduces photosynthesis and can effectively starve the tree

This isn’t the right way to treat a tree, folks. Instead, you need to look for other solutions, such as thinning the tree or, if possible, moving it to a more desirable location. But whatever you do, don’t go it alone.

Why Should You Speak to a Professional?

The simple answer is: so you don’t permanently maim or kill your tree. A professional such as Premier Tree Solutions will help you assess the health of your tree and find a different path to arboreal perfection, so don’t wait: Give us a call today.


Get to know Georgia’s beautiful array of trees and how you can take care of your own! Each month, we feature some of the most popular trees in the state. This month, we are showcasing the American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis). Learn all about the American sycamore below!

American Sycamore tree infographic




















































Premier Tree is your local source for professional tree services in the metro Atlanta area. We provide tree removal, trimming, pruning, stump grinding, and more. Check out all of the services we offer, and contact us today for a free consultation!