Pruning for Health: Why Tree and Shrub Pruning Matters

Pruning for Health: Why Tree and Shrub Pruning Matters

Category: Tree Care, Tree & Shrub

February and March are the perfect times to prune your trees and shrubs.

Since trees and shrubs don’t have leaves, the arborists at Tomlinson Bomberger can see what branches need removal. The Tomlinson Bomberger arborists can ensure better cuts to keep the natural beauty of your landscape trees.

Additionally, when our landscape crews trim your shrubs, they’ll also look to see if there are any insects, such as bagworms, overwintering in your evergreens.

In this blog, you’ll learn more about

  • The benefits of tree pruning
  • Old wood vs. new wood determines shrub pruning
  • Tree pruning services that won’t harm your trees
  • Proper pruning cuts to ensure your tree’s health.

6 Benefits of Pruning in Winter

To maintain their beauty, shape, and health, trees need to be pruned, and winter is the ideal time to trim your trees and shrubs. Here are six benefits of tree pruning in the winter:

  1. You can see the trees’ canopy and branch structure when there are no leaves.
  2. The cold heals pruning cuts faster.
  3. Since pests and disease pathogens are dormant, you don’t have to worry about pest infestations and tree diseases.
  4. You can see broken, damaged, and weak tree limbs.
  5. You can also see where tree branches cross or rub against other limbs.
  6. You’ll see where the branches connect.

Read more: How Often Do I Need to Trim My Trees?

Unless you’ve been trained to prune trees safely, don’t climb up your trees to prune them. Instead, follow this wise saying, “If you can’t reach it from the ground, call a professional arborist.”

Old Wood vs. New Wood Determines Shrub Pruning

Your deciduous shrubs, meaning they lose their leaves in the fall, should also be pruned back to their natural shapes. Here are three benefits for pruning your dormant shrubs in winter or early spring:

  1. Your shrubs will recover faster
  2. Shrubs can focus their energy on new growth after you prune the old growth away
  3. Again, you can see the natural shape of your deciduous shrubs when there are no leaves on them.

All deciduous shrubs aren’t the same. Instead, when your shrubs flower, it will determine how much is pruned in late winter. advises that you wait to prune spring-flowering shrubs until they bloom, or you’ll find that your spring shrubs won’t have any flowers.

Why should some deciduous shrubs be trimmed now while others must wait until they bloom?

It all comes down to whether the flower buds form on new wood or old. Abelia, beautyberry, hydrangeas (panicle and smooth), rose of Sharon, and roses establish flower buds on new wood that develop in the spring.

Flowering shrubs that form flower buds on old wood, which is last year’s growth, should not be cut back until late spring and early summer after their blossoms have bloomed—or they won’t produce any flowers.

Examples of old wood shrubs include

  • Azaleas
  • Cotoneasters
  • Forsynthias
  • Lilacs
  • Mock oranges
  • Oakleaf hydrangeas
  • Spireas
  • Weigelas

Tree Pruning Services That Won’t Harm Your Trees

You must hire a landscape maintenance company with certified arborists on staff to preserve your trees’ beauty and form. You want to ensure that your trees aren’t improperly pruned or tree-topped.

Tree topping happens when many branches and leaves are removed from the crown. Tree topping isn’t the same as crown thinning or crown cleaning. Instead, it’s a fast way to damage or kill your trees. Also, tree topping weakens new tree limbs, which makes your tree-topped trees fragile.

Learn more: Top 5 Considerations Before Hiring a Tree Care Company


At Tomlinson Bomberger, our arborists provide the following tree-pruning services:

  1. Crown cleaning

When our technicians clean your trees’ crown, they’ll remove the following branch types:







Poorly attached

These types of branches could hurt people and cause property damage. Crown cleaning isn’t tree topping.


  1. Crown thinning

Certified arborists are taught the art of selective pruning, and crown thinning is a part of that art. When we selectively prune your trees, we only trim away branches in the crown structure, which improves light penetration and air circulation.

Crown thinning restores a tree’s natural shape and reduces the weight of heavy branches. Crown thinning improves some tree species’ disease resistance, too.


  1. Crown raising

Certified arborists perform crown raising by selectively removing the lower limbs of a tree that “raise the tree’s crown” so there are no obstructed views.

We provide crown-raising services when we’re clearing plants growing under your trees’ canopy, clearing roofs from overgrown branches, and when there’s blocked visibility because of overgrown tree limbs.


  1. Storm damage tree pruning

Severe storms, whether in winter, spring, summer, or fall, can result in tree branches falling on your house, outdoor structures, or car. If one of your trees has dead or diseased branches, ensure an arborist evaluates and prunes off the deadwood.


  1. Tree pruning services

Regular tree pruning benefits the trees’ health and protects them from falling branches. Depending on the tree species, most of your landscape trees can be pruned every 3-7 years.


If you’re planting young trees, you should also have them pruned because it prevents future tree problems and pruning costs.

Proper Pruning Cuts to Ensure Your Trees’ Health

Tree pruning is both a science and an art. Our arborists undergo extensive training to care for trees properly with our professional pruning techniques, including the proper pruning cuts we make.

Our arborists will employ proper pruning cuts, such as

  • Only trimming above a bud or a side branch to a main branch or trunk at ground level
  • Cutting back water spouts and suckers
  • Trimming branches with very narrow angles
  • Using branch removal and reduction cuts to thin a tree
  • Using heading cuts to remove tree branches between shoots (called nodes).

Summing Up

Proper pruning is an essential part of your landscape maintenance. If you want to preserve your trees’ beauty and form, hiring a landscaping company like ours with certified arborists on staff is the best choice.

You can be assured that the arborist will inspect your trees and create a plan where tree care is the top priority.

Make Your Tree and Shrub Pruning Appointment Today!

If you have trees and shrubs, you need a certified arborist to inspect and prune your trees. We’re currently offering 15% off any new pruning or removal job. Book your tree pruning job before March 31st to secure this offer.

If you prefer to call or email us, you can reach us at 717-925-3335 or

We provide tree care, pruning, and landscape maintenance services to Harrisburg and Lancaster County homeowners.

Sources:, Winter Pruning Guide for Trees and Shrubs., 8 Must-Have Pruning Tools for Outdoor Maintenance., Pruning Landscape Trees.

Ibid, Tree-Topping: The Cost is Greater Than You Think.

Ibid, Winter is Tree Pruning Season., Basic Pruning Principles.