Learn to plant and maintain strong, healthy trees that will thrive for generations.


Free Pruning Clinics are offered by the Sacramento Tree Foundation during the fall and winter months. Check our calendar of events.

Young Trees

Keeping your tree in good shape is key

  • Prune back dead, broken, or crossing branches and root suckers growing up from the base of the tree anytime. Root suckers are often a sign of tree stress. Consult your local nursery or find a certified arborist at www.treesaregood.com to determine the cause of root suckers.
  • Leave lower branches on young trees during the first two years to encourage tree growth and prevent the sun from scalding the trunk.
  • You can begin shaping your tree during the dormant season following planting. Pruning is best done during the winter months. Do not remove more than 25% of the tree’s live branches at any one time.
  • As your young tree matures, maintain the central leader (main vertical stem). Thin out narrowly spaced branches. This allows good tree structure and promotes healthy growth. Check out the Urban Tree Foundation for a complete pruning guide.

Practice your pruning skills with and test your knowledge with the Urban Tree Foundation's practice examples.

Most mature trees should be pruned by a professional. Learn how to hire a reliable tree care company to keep your mature tree in good shape. 

Additional Pruning Tips

Pruning trees the first 2 to 8 years after planting will help to gradually create good structure and form. Some species grow more vigorously than others, and may require more or less pruning. The first step to pruning is knowing what shape your tree will eventually take such as, round, oval, columnar or low canopy.

1. Round: Goldenrain

2. Oval: Red maple

3. Columnar: Capital pear

4. Low Canopy: River birch

When it is time to prune, follow these general procedures for young trees:

  • Use only clean and sharp pruning tools.
  • Leave as much greenery as possible. The more foliage that remains on the tree, the faster it will grow.
  • Each branch selected for removal should be cut outside the small ridge known as the branch bark collar located where the branch joins the trunk. Leave this collar intact.
  • Wound dressings should not be used over pruning cuts.
  • Never cut the top off your tree.

Download our easy to use Pruning Guide to help you grow beautiful, safe, and healthy trees.