tree branches being pruned

DIY vs. Professional Tree Pruning: The Pros and Cons of Both

The trees on your Louisville property are an asset and you want to be able to enjoy their beauty for years down the road. For that reason, proper tree care is crucial.

Tree pruning is a valuable service that will help you preserve the longevity of your trees. This is the process of removing dead, diseased, or damaged branches in a way that will benefit the health of the tree as a whole. There are different types of tree pruning, depending on your goals. 

We know that “How to prune my tree” is a popular Google search, meaning that many people want to tackle DIY tree pruning. 

Tree Canopy Bark 2
While you might think you can handle this service on your own, this is not something that we’d recommend. In this article, we’ll dive into the pros and cons of both DIY tree pruning and professional tree pruning. 

Pros of DIY Tree Pruning

Far and away, the main benefit of tackling tree pruning on your own is cost savings. People do not want to pay for a service that they think they can do themselves. That being said, if you make a mistake, it could cost you a lot more than you’d ever save by taking care of tree pruning on your own.

Here are what we believe homeowners would view as the primary benefits of DIY tree pruning.

  • Saving Money: In general, people attempt DIY work around their home because they don’t want to pay for something they can do. But we’ll talk about why tree pruning is more complicated than people tend to realize and how a mistake can be incredibly costly.

  • “Fast” Results: Another reason why homeowners might tackle DIY tree pruning is that they want the work done right away. Maybe they’re out in their yard on a Saturday and they see some branches they want taken down. They may decide rather than waiting to schedule this service with a pro, they’ll just take care of it on the spot. 

Tree Canopy 4

Cons of DIY Tree Pruning

As we’ve mentioned, there’s a lot of risk associated with tackling tree pruning on your own. We can empathize with wanting to save money and/or wanting to take care of something right away. But with a service as potentially dangerous as tree pruning, this is simply not a DIY project.

There are a lot more cons to DIY tree pruning than there are benefits.

  • You risk getting hurt: First and foremost, we want to talk about the fact that pruning is dangerous work. Every year homeowners wind up in the ER or even die because of a tree-related accident. Climbing a ladder or the tree itself to perform pruning is risky. You’re also dealing with sharp cutting tools and power equipment. If you want to prune some small shrubs or plants around your property, that’s a different story. But for your medium and tall trees, there’s quite a bit of risk.

  • Pruning mistakes can be detrimental: As we’ve mentioned, there is more to pruning than people tend to realize. Pruning mistakes can be detrimental to the health of your tree and you could risk its decline or even death. Making cuts in the wrong location or making too many pruning cuts are just two examples of how things can go wrong. Pruning errors can lead to disease, pets, or other health issues.

  • Pruning work is laborious and time-consuming: Another downside that we think homeowners don’t always consider is that this isn’t a quick and easy job. Proper pruning takes time and attention to detail. It can also be grueling work. There’s a good chance this isn’t how you really want to spend your free time.

  • You may end up with subpar results: When your tree is properly pruned, you’ll see benefits like better growth, longer bloom times, better structure, and more. But when you make pruning mistakes or don’t have the expertise to perform this service, you’re likely to be disappointed with the results.

  • You likely don’t have the proper equipment: Finally, pruning with the right tools is important. While a tree care professional will have access to all the equipment needed to do this job right, chances are, you’ll need to go out and buy more tools. Also, keep in mind that professional tree pruning is performed using commercial-grade equipment. That’s naturally going to yield better results. 

Arborist Saw Pruning Climbing in Tree Canopy 2

Cons of Professional Tree Pruning

As you would expect, our list of cons of professional tree pruning is the exact opposite of our list of pros for DIY tree pruning. 

  • Tree pruning is expensive: We know a lot of people might say “tree pruning is expensive” and therefore want to tackle it themselves. But the truth is, a tree pruning mistake can cost you a lot more. Making an error that leads to the decline of your tree is costly. Or, even worse, having an accident (like a fall) that lands you in the hospital is also costly. Like most things in life, we believe that there’s a cost associated with getting high-quality work that delivers the best results.

  • You’ll have to wait to schedule services: We know that people are often in a rush to get work done, particularly as the weather starts warming up and they start spending more time outside. But you have to be careful not to let impatience lead to results you’re dissatisfied with. It’s worth waiting to get on the schedule for professional tree pruning if you care about getting the best results. 

Pros of Professional Tree Pruning

The pros of professional tree pruning would be the opposite of the cons of DIY tree pruning. Let’s quickly recap.

  • You won’t risk getting hurt: When you let a professional handle this service, you aren’t taking any personal risk. Of course, be sure to hire a tree-pruning professional who is licensed and insured! Unfortunately, there are companies out there that don’t carry the proper licensure and insurance and that can still put you at risk!

  • You won’t have to spend your free time pruning: When you hand this service over to a pro, you also free up your weekend!

  • You’ll ensure the work is done right: With professional tree pruning you will get the best results which also means you’ll gain all the benefits that come with this service. You also won’t have to worry about investing in tools and other equipment as you know that a pro will have everything needed to get the job done right.


Making a Wise Choice for Tree Pruning

Hopefully, this list has given you some valuable food for thought.

We recognize that we have some bias when it comes to this topic since we are a professional tree pruning service. 

That being said, we have also seen numerous mistakes over the years that could have been avoided. As professionals in this field, we do believe it is our responsibility to share why tackling DIY tree pruning can be risky and lead to costly mistakes.

In fact, sometimes we are called in to fix pruning mistakes (either from a DIY job or even an unqualified “pro”). This is not always easily done. Having seen enough hack jobs over the years that put lots of unnecessary stress on a tree, we do feel it’s our duty to stress the importance of making a wise choice.

At the end of the day, when you make the wise choice to work with a tree care professional, you’re 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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