Your Complete Guide to Pruning Trees and Shrubs

February and March is the best time to prune most trees and shrubs in Iowa.  The absence of foliage at this time of year gives you a clear view of the tree and allows the selection and removal of appropriate branches.  Also, when pruned in the late dormant season the walling-off, compartmentalization, or sealing of wounds can begin as soon as growth starts in the spring giving the tree the most time to recover from the pruning cut.

Iowa State University has many resources available to help with pruning all your woody plants.

pruning shrubs
Proper Time to Prune Trees and Shrubs
pruning saw on tree
Guide to Pruning Equipment
pruned branches on tree
Pruning FAQs
Pruning Video
Principles of Pruning (videos)
Pruning Trees Pub
Pruning Trees: Shade, Flowering, and Conifer (pdf)
Topping Publication
Topping – Tree Care or Tree Abuse? (pdf)
newly planted tree
Pruning Young Trees
Pruning Oak Trees to Avoid Oak Wilt
Pruning Shrubs Pub
Pruning Ornamental Shrubs (pdf)
Lilac  Photo by jStock
Pruning Large, Overgrown Shrubs
Pruning Hydrangeas
formal hedge
How to Prune Formal Hedges
Pruning Fruit Trees Pub
Pruning and Training Fruit Trees (pdf)
How to Prune and Train Young Apple Trees
Large apple tree
How to Prune Neglected Apple Trees
How to Prune  Raspberries in the Home Garden
Blackberry Photo by Igor Normann
How to Prune Blackberries in the Home Garden
How to Prune Grapevines in the Home Garden


Last reviewed:
January 2023