Pruning Mistakes to Avoid When You See Dead Tree Branches in North Port, FL

There are almost one hundred different kinds of trees in Florida. Yet, the same principles of care apply to all trees.

Whether you have a home with mature trees or plant new ones, you must care for them. 

If you’re planting new trees, choose the right tree for your landscape. An important Florida guideline is to put the right plant in the right place. This involves analyzing soil, sun, and fertilizer needs before you plant. 

Every tree needs pruning to control its height and shape, and to remove dead tree branches. At first, pruning seems simple. You cut off branches that aren't wanted, right? Not always.

Prune the right way and you improve the health and beauty of your tree. Do it wrong, and you can cause permanent damage. 

Keep reading to learn about pruning mistakes that harm your trees.

What is Pruning?

There’s a difference between trimming and hard pruning.

A trim removes minor branches to improve the form or function of a tree. Trimming shapes plants so they look good and don’t block vital sun or moisture. It’s safe to trim trees any time of the year in North Port.

Hard pruning means cutting back up to one-third of a tree. Cutting out infected, broken, and dead branches improves the health of a tree. It provides clearance and manages tree size.

It’s best for the tree if you prune during warm months. Low temperatures can damage new growth that emerges after pruning. Schedule serious pruning in Florida from March 15 to October 15.

Proper pruning prevents potential hazards caused by falling branches. It also controls tree shapes and sizes to improve your landscape. Always wait until after a bloom cycle to prune flowering trees.

If you want to prune a tree, avoid the following mistakes. 

Don’t Prune Without a Goal

Always make a plan when you prune a tree. For example:

  • Increase fruit or flower production
  • Remove dead, broken or diseased limbs
  • Reduce or remove stems that compete with the main leader
  • Remove branches that criss-cross to improve how the tree looks
  • Make trees resistant to hurricane damage

It’s wise for tree owners to work on minor pruning tasks. Hire a certified arborist to prune trees over 15 feet.

Pruning without a goal causes damage to the tree without a reason. It can take years for a tree to recover from major incorrect pruning.

Use the Right Tools

Pruning with unsharpened or the incorrect tool leads to frustration and damage. Dull tools can rip or shred the bark. A butchered branch is susceptible to pests and disease.

Make sure cutting tools are sharp and match the job. Each tool suits a certain task. The power of the tool increases with the size of the branch you want to prune.

There are four kinds of pruning tools:

  • Shears
  • Loppers
  • Hand Saws
  • Chainsaws

Don’t hack away at a 3-inch branch with loppers. Use a sharp saw to cut it without causing damage. Keep tools clean and sharp for clean cuts.

Improper Pruning 

The first step to a proper cut is to locate the branch collar. It’s the swollen area where a branch connects to the trunk. 

Cut outside the branch collar. Don’t remove or damage it. This appropriate cut reduces damage so the tree forms a callus and heals faster. 

An improper cut causes irreversible damage. The most common bad cuts are a flush cut or a stub cut.

Flush Cut

A flush cut removes the branch collar. The branch cut is too close to the tree trunk. It creates a large wound on the tree that won’t heal right.

Stub Cut

A stub cut prunes the branch too far from the trunk. Too much of a dead branch remains on the tree. It can decay backward through the root collar into the tree trunk.

Both flush and stub cuts lead to decay and death of a tree.

Over-Thinning or Lacing

Another harmful practice is over-thinning or lacing a tree. This method prunes the tree so light and air pass through the canopy. 

Overdo it and the tree is more susceptible to damage. Over-thinning allows wind to hit and damage every branch. 


Another bad pruning method is lion-tailing. It removes the inside branches and leaves of a tree. It keeps most of the foliage on the ends of branches. The result is more branches break.

Pruning involves technique and timing.

No Heavy Pruning During Growing Season

You can starve a tree if you prune it during the growing season. The tree can’t make enough food when you remove too many leaves. The growing season in Florida runs from spring to late fall. 

Besides growing fruit or flowers, heat and drought conditions add stress to a tree. An over-pruned tree is less resilient to severe conditions. 

Pruning removes stored resources and impacts future growth. It also creates places for decay to enter the tree. Over time, improper pruning can kill a tree.

Topping a Tree

Topping a tree means cutting the top off. Don’t ever take the top off a tree. It can topple a tree by ruining its structural balance.

The urge to top a tree occurs when it outgrows the allotted space. That’s why it’s vital to consider the mature size of a tree before you plant it.

Take time to plan your landscape. Consider the North Port microclimate and available space to prevent problems later.

Pruning is About More Than Dead Tree Branches

If pruning can hurt a tree, why do it? While pruning can cause problems, it also produces long-term benefits. The benefits far outweigh the temporary damage caused by cutting the tree.

Proper pruning increases the safety and health of the tree. A healthy tree doesn’t drop dead branches or attract decay. It enhances your property with shade and beauty.

Avoid these pruning mistakes to help your trees thrive. 

Time to Call the Professionals

Don’t jeopardize an otherwise healthy tree by removing dead tree branches the wrong way. If you aren’t confident about pruning, hire a professional. Amateurs risk injury to themselves, as well as their trees and property.

If you have pruning questions or problems, contact us today. We ready to help you create and maintain a beautiful landscape.

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