Can Trimming a Tree Kill It?

Can trimming a tree kill it? While strategically pruning your beloved specimens brings a wealth of advantages, too much of a good thing can prove lethal. If you want to avoid the potential for disaster, you’re in the right place.

As the go-to tree pruning experts in Apex, NC, we at J&D Tree Pros, Inc. know the intricacies involved in the practice. Keep reading as we break down the nitty-gritty details so you can make informed decisions about your living landscape.

More Does Not Equal Better

Over-pruning remains one of the most common mistakes newbie gardeners make, as they equate the process to getting a haircut. If you cut too short, the hair will grow eventually, and you can go longer between cuts to save time, right? Wrong!

Trimming too much of the living tissue or overdoing it on major branches causes many potential issues, such as:

Unbalanced Growth 

Over-pruning can create an unstable canopy, leading to structural issues down the line. You may find your tree lopsided and unable to hold up its foliage over time.

Increased Window of Vulnerability 

Cutting off too much of the foliage not only leaves trees open to disease and environmental stressors, such as the hazards of trees overlapping power lines, but also increases the risk of insect infestations.


When you remove a large portion of the canopy, the bark exposed to direct sunlight can suffer sunburn damage, leaving ugly blemishes and weakening the tree’s immune system. 

Can trimming a tree kill it? Absolutely. When done poorly, your specimen can suffer from these issues and eventually succumb to the damage.

What About Tree Topping?

Topping involves cutting off the majority of a tree’s canopy, leaving only a few feet of the crown. Many experts frown upon this practice due to its aesthetic impact on the specimen and how it can cause severe shock-related damage. 

When a tree is topped, it must produce buds along the remaining stumps to re-establish the crown. These new branches come in weaker and more susceptible to insect infestations and environmental stressors.

Proper Pruning Practices

If you plan to trim your tree branches, consider following these tips:

  • Always make sure to use sharp, clean cutting equipment. 
  • Don’t take too much foliage away in one session, especially when dealing with young trees. 
  • Remove deadwood and crossing branches as needed to improve air circulation, light penetration, and proper structure. 
  • Use the three-cut method to prevent branch tearing. 
  • Avoid cutting too close to the branch collar, the part of the trunk where the branch and tree meet.
  • When trimming, angle your cuts face down and away from the tree’s stem to encourage faster recovery.

Bad tree pruning practices can kill your trees and undo all the time and money you’ve put into them. Why leave anything to chance when you can let veteran arborists do the heavy lifting?

At J&D Tree Pros, Inc., we can ensure your specimen looks its best — without putting its life at risk. Give us a call at (919) 467-7997! We hope we’ve clarified your concern, “Can trimming a tree kill it?”

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