5 Common Tree Pruning Mistakes

Trees are one of the most prized assets of many Queensland homeowners. Healthy and beautiful trees improve the property’s landscape and can even increase its value. Nothing brings a more calm feeling than looking out at a garden of lush foliage surrounding your property. To keep trees looking their best, tree pruning is necessary. Many homeowners, tempted by possible short-term cost savings, rush in and start pruning with a haphazard DIY approach, but caring for your trees, especially regular pruning, is a significant undertaking. Let’s look at the five common tree pruning mistakes people make and how they can be avoided. 

What to Avoid when Pruning Trees: 5 Common Tree Pruning Mistakes


If a tree needs reducing in height, the obvious thing to do would be to trim it from the top, right? This technique is called “topping”, and while it might seem like the right solution, unfortunately, it’s not beneficial to the tree’s long-term health. 

Topping can cause rapid regrowth of weakly attached branches, increasing the risk of falling branches and storm damage. Not only that, but it can also create large wounds prone to decay and infection.

The other unfortunate side effect of topping is it promotes the growth of water sprouts, also known as suckers. These thin, twig-like sprouts spring up after topping and reduce the supply of necessary resources for the tree by sucking the energy to grow themselves. If you’re already noticing these suckers, remove them immediately.


One of the most common tree pruning mistakes or pruning DIYers is over-pruning. It happens when too many branches are removed to achieve a certain aesthetic appeal. While this may achieve the desired look, it has the unwelcome side effect of limiting the tree’s ability to photosynthesise, which can make the tree prone to:

  • Rotting
  • Pest infestation
  • Diseases
  • Branches breakage
  • Sprouting of suckers
  • Unbalanced growth
  • Tree structural damage
  • Severe tree stress

To avoid over-pruning, only remove 10-15% of the tree’s foliage in a single pruning session. Leave ample lateral branches inside the tree to effectively maintain its weight distribution and balance the stress it may endure.

Cutting the Largest Branches

When pruning a tree, it’s essential to be mindful of the size of the branches being cut. Cutting off the largest branches can cause traumatic damage to the tree’s entire system. As a general rule of thumb, avoid cutting the main leading branches, as they contribute significantly to the tree’s overall health.

Cutting the Trunk (or Pruning Too Close to it)

Another one of DIY pruners’ most common tree pruning mistakes is removing the branches completely at their base or cutting too close to the trunk. It can damage the branch collar – a specialised tissue that helps the tree seal off the wounds.

Cutting too close to the trunk leaves stubs that cannot heal properly due to the damaged branch collar. Unhealed stubs expose the heartwood, which is vulnerable to rot and pests

Avoid the Most Common Tree Pruning Mistakes: Call the Professionals

The fifth tree pruning mistake, and the biggest by far, is DIY-ing it rather than seeking the help of experts. Professional Abrosists are trained on how to prune trees safely and effectively. They can skillfully prune to achieve the desired look while being mindful of avoiding possible long-term damage. 

If unsure of what you’re doing, consider engaging a reputable tree care service provider, such as Clean Cut Trees. We have a team of professional Arborists who strictly follow the Pruning Amenity Trees AS:4373 standard when undertaking all pruning work. They will work with you to achieve the look and feel you’re after for your tree while ensuring it stays healthy, safe and thriving for many years.

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