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The Difference Between Shearing and Pruning: How to Decide Which is Right for You

Unless you have some horticultural background, you might be confused by the different tree terminology out there. That can make it challenging when you’re trying to explain what your trees need.

Two services that people often mix up are tree shearing vs. pruning. Even though the terms are sometimes mistakenly used interchangeably, these are two entirely different maintenance services.

In this article, we’ll explain the differences between shearing vs. pruning and help you understand what service you might actually need.

What’s Involved with Shearing Trees?

The process of shearing is solely focused on the outer part of the plant. You might also think of this as shaping. The goal is aesthetic as you’re tidying up the tree or shrub by shaving off excess growth. You’re also typically forming a shape that is not natural to the way that the tree or shrub grows.

Shaping a shrub, such as making it rounded or ball-like, or squaring it off, can give the shrub a more formal look, which some people like. Boxwood and Taxus are two shrubs commonly sheared to take on a specific shape.

Shrubs that are intended to be used as hedges are often sheared.

Not all plants can be sheared and it can actually be hard on the shrub. That’s because shearing tends to promote a thick outer layer of the shrub. This is great for a privacy hedge, but it must be a shrub that can handle this type of shaping. 

Shearing can make it difficult for sunlight and air to reach the center of the shrub as the outer portion of it thickens.

Hand Pruning Tree Arborist PPP Clippers 6

What’s Involved in Pruning Trees?

Pruning trees is quite different from shearing them. While pruning definitely has an aesthetic benefit, this service is more about preserving the overall health and well-being of the tree or shrub.

Tree pruning refers to the process of removing dead, diseased, or damaged branches in a way that will improve the overall health of the tree. There are also various types of tree pruning based on your goals. Tree pruning can be used to maintain the proper size and shape of a tree.

Some of the benefits of keeping up with regular tree pruning include:

  • Preventing the spread of disease or decay
  • Improving the tree’s overall structure
  • Encouraging healthier growth
  • Preventing hazards, like weakened limbs

Pruning trees regularly can help promote longevity and homeowners who have their trees pruned often say they tend to bloom more profusely and look healthier overall. That can mean greener, more vibrant trees.


Shearing Vs. Pruning: Which Service Do I Need?

Because tree shearing is designated for some specific types of trees and shrubs with a highly specific goal in mind, most people are generally in need of tree pruning. 

While there are still some people who like the more formal look that shearing provides, over the years, we’ve found it’s a bit less popular. Many people are looking for natural landscapes in which heavily sheared shrubs might look out of place.

That being said, privacy hedges are still a popular option and might require shearing to maintain their look and purpose.

As we’ve mentioned earlier when talking about shearing, it can come at a risk to the overall plant’s health. Since shearing helps create thick outer growth, the inner parts of your plant might struggle.

If you want a tree or shrub lightly shaped but don’t require that it be heavily sheared, selective pruning is a better choice for the plant’s overall long-term health.

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Choosing Tree Pruning Services in Louisville, KY

Whenever investing in tree maintenance services, it makes sense to work with a professional to get the best results and avoid problematic mistakes. 

Homeowners sometimes consider tackling DIY pruning, but there are a lot of things that can potentially go wrong.

While proper tree pruning will ultimately lead to better health and less maintenance of your property’s trees, improper pruning can do just the opposite. You could end up leaving your tree weakened and struggling. 

Bad pruning can lead to further problems with disease and pests.

There’s a lot more skill involved with pruning trees than people tend to realize. Knowing which branches to cut, and which to leave, is absolutely imperative to your success. But you don’t want to be left with an ugly tree, either. 

That’s why we call pruning both an “art and a science.” 

Pole Pruning Arborist PPP

Protect your Investment in your Landscape

Trees and shrubs are such a valuable asset on your Louisville property. That’s why it’s important to properly care for them. 

When we talk to homeowners about keeping up with pruning trees, we tell them that it’s a protection of their investment in their landscape and the overall value of their home. 

There’s also a lot of value that comes from having a tree expert on your side. When a tree care professional comes out to prune a tree, they’re also evaluating it for any potential problems that might be occurring and coming up with a game plan. Trees in the suburban landscape are not only subject to potential disease problems but also pests, environmental stressors, and more. 

Periodically having your trees evaluated is important. 

At Limbwalker, we are here to help. When you make the wise choice to work with a trained professional, you are making a valuable investment in the health of your property’s trees.

If you’d like to learn more about tree services for your Louisville home, get in touch, get your quote, and get back to enjoying your yard.

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Chris O'Bryan

Chris O'Bryan

Chris grew up in Louisville, KY. He holds a Forestry degree from the The University of Kentucky and a Master's Degree in Economics from Clemson University. He is a Certified Arborist and 5-time Kentucky Tree Climbing Champion. When not at work, he has fun with his family, enjoys traveling, one-wheeling, and working in his yard.

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