What Is Tree Pruning?

Pruning is simply the act of removing branches selectively from a tree. By doing this you improve the tree’s structure by removing unwanted branches while encouraging new healthy growth. 

In the forest trees naturally do their own thing. They stretch their branches and limbs as high as they can possibly grow, while sending old weak limbs and branches to the forest floor. Resulting in the common deadwood seen at the base of untouched forests. In urban areas (or our backyard), trees don’t have as much freedom. Of course for good reason, we want our trees to look as natural as possible, but we also don’t want them sending dead branches to the floor. 

This is where pruning comes in! While you might have heard the term before, continue reading to understand what exactly it means and how it’s performed. 

The Price Varies:

We often receive phone calls asking “how much do you charge to prune a small, medium, or large boxelder, maple, apple (etc.) tree”. The simple and honest answer is it depends. It all depends on the size of the tree, the location of the tree, and the surrounding landscape. 

In order to provide an accurate estimate, call Rent A Monkey today at 801-895-4676, and we will schedule a time to come out to your property for a free walk through of your property, to thoroughly assess your tree and its pruning needs. We service the Salt Lake City Metro and often work in Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Sandy, West Jordan, and Sugarhouse. 

Here are the different factors we consider when assessing your tree. 

  • The type of tree
  • The location of the Tree
  • Risk and safety of the overall job 
  • Your specific needs
  • Time required on job site
  • Nearby structures (house, fence, power lines etc.)
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The Importance Of Proper Care

Tree pruning and tree trimming is a very essential step to sustaining your tree’s health, encouraging growth, and keeping a natural appearance to remain aesthetically pleasing. 

To fully understand pruning, we first need to understand the science behind tree biology by recognizing plant flaws while skillfully removing defects without stunting the tree’s growth and causing damage. 

By selectively and carefully removing the deadwood and unnecessary branches; we aesthetically shape your tree to enhance its natural shape and allow for new growth by eliminating cross branching. 

Best Time Of The Year To Prune Your Tree?

Pruning is something that can happen year round. During the summer, it’s easy to pick out the deadwood and branches without leaf growth. During the fall it’s a great time to remove any unwanted branches before the snow weighs them down and makes them collapse. During the winter is a great time since it allows for our crew to easily access unwanted branches and limbs, and lastly the spring is great for pruning since it promotes new growth as the leaves bud. 

Here are some basic tips to understand to keep your trees in the best possible condition: 

  • How to prune new or young trees
  • Subordinate pruning
  • When and how to prune your fruit trees
  • When and why to avoid trimming your Oak Trees

Understanding when and how to trim your trees keeps them in a long term growth cycle promoting a healthy stable season of robust growth. Salt Lake City has a very dry arid climate. Without much rainfall it’s important to preserve our trees since we live in a fragile climate for tree growth. 

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Should You Prune Young Trees?

When your tree is first planted, have Rent a Monkey come trim away the broken, defected, and damaged branches to prevent future issues. 

Then the most important step of all, wait.

Roughly 2-3 years after your initial planting phase, you will begin to see new branches sprout into competition. 

New trees (especially) need help during their growth phase (in the early months and years). Without guidance, immature trees begin growing in the wrong direction. 

To better handle their wild tendencies, the act of pruning can help them maintain a stable structure.

In the forest, trees compete for sunlight while growing in close competition to each other. In an urban environment trees typically have plenty of light, sometimes completely to themselves. Freshly planted trees will happily take in the sunlight, resulting in branches competing with each other to become “the leader”. 

Although the tree may have multiple strong branches, overall this makes the tree weaker because without a centralized trunk, the tree lacks a central frame needed to withstand storms. It could also cause future problems with its structure, costing more and damaging the tree. 

To fix this issue, an arborist from Rent A Monkey will selectively cut to make room for the leading limb. This will allow a central branch (that’s free of damage) to grow, while removing competing stems with wounds and defects. 

Removing “rival branches” from your tree is known as subordinate and structural pruning. Again, the goal here is to encourage the tree’s “leader” to grow by removing branches that are competing with it. 

By “training” your young tree to grow the correct way is quick and simple. Additionally, this small step can prevent costly structural corrections in the future. 

A general rule of thumb for arborists in the industry is to cut away no more than 25% of the total canopy at a time. Doing this can send any given tree into shock and is not recommended. 

Subordinate Pruning

One form of pruning is “subordinate pruning”. This means selectively shortening specific branches to encourage young smaller branches to grow. This is an attempt to replicate how trees grow naturally in the forest. 

The goal is to encourage your tree to grow upward instead of outward. For example, in the forest, young trees that compete with each other for space and sunlight, tend to grow tall and narrow to rise above neighboring trees to get more sunlight. Central leaders grow as they suppress side branches, allowing the tree to grow upward, instead of outward. 

In the city, or when landscapers plant trees, they are typically planted far apart, discouraging competition from surrounding trees. This encourages trees to grow wider than they would in the forest. This leads branches from the same tree to compete with each other for space (vertically). Leading to “cross branching” where branches twist around each other fighting for light. As they grow the bark rubs against one another leading to damaged bark, leaving it susceptible to open wounds allowing bugs and beetles to crawl inside the tree. It also encourages the tree to grow with multiple “leaders”, leaving the tree with a poor structure. 

By making an educated decision, an arborist from Rent A Monkey can decide which limb or branch is the best leader, and shorten competing branches. This “trains” the tree to grow in the appropriate manner. This will keep the tree strong and less likely to be damaged during a storm. Subordinate pruning should start 1-2 years after plating, and should continue once every 3 years afterward. 

1-2 hours with Rent A Monkey’s experienced arborist in the beginning of your tree’s life, will prevent and save thousands of dollars of future expenses. If you wait to do essential pruning in the early stages, we will likely have to come back later to drastically prune, or even remove your tree. 


image of rent a monkey employee working
image of rent a monkey employee working

Can I Prune Fruit Trees In The Summer?

In short, yes, pruning fruit trees in the summer is fine (although not preferred). You can trim multiple fruit trees, including peach and apple trees, at any point throughout the year without doing damage. In our opinion, the best time of the year to prune fruit trees would be between December and February when the trees are dormant. 

A good reason to prune your fruit tree in the summer is if it’s: 

  • Growing too large too fast. 
  • Producing copious amounts of fruit. 
  • Cross Branching 
  • Being negatively affected by non producing limbs/branches. 

If you’d like to prune your fruit tree in the summertime, feel free to reach out to Rent A Monkey Tree Service and we will arrive to professionally prune your fruit trees. We will focus on minor cuts when pruning in the summertime while saving the extensive trimming for when the tree is dormant in the winter time.

Avoid Trimming Oak Trees In The Summer

Sap beetles love to buzz around the yard between April and August. They are very active in both June and July. For example the picnic beetle, strawberry sap beetle, and the dusky sap beetle are typical culprits. 

Unfortunately, the beatles are naturally attracted to holes and/or wounds in the tree where sap will seep from. For example, due to the recent Utah storm, beetles are making their way into healthy tree cracks all across the Salt Lake City Metro. 

After slowly eating a tree with oak wilt, the beatles will creep their way over to an unaffected tree with holes and cuts, carrying with them the oak wilt spores and infecting another healthy tree. This often happens between April and July. Hence the nickname “oak wilt beetle”. 

Just to be safe, an experienced arborist from Rent a Monkey will likely recommend avoiding trimming oaks between April and August when assessing your tree. 

An inexperienced tree company will not know this and often they will trim oak trees during this time, putting your oak tree (and your money) in unnecessary danger. 

Remember, if simply one tree in your yard gets oak wilt, all of your oak trees will be at risk. 

It is recommended to simply remove the infected tree and to treat the others with fungicide to help protect them. Our arborists at Rent A Monkey may recommend a heavy duty intervention since oak wilt can spread between roots. 

Rent A Monkey recently worked with a client who experienced a devastating issue directly related to this topic. After giving her an estimate for tree pruning in Draper Utah. 

Sarah mentioned last June, she had four red oaks pruned by a local (inexperienced and non certified) tree company. This recent spring Sarah was heartbroken to see her 90 year old oak tree grew with fewer leaves and later died. Simply because the local care company didn’t understand that trimming oaks in the summertime can lead to oak wilt. If Sarah would have gotten an estimate from an accredited company such as Rent A Monkey Tree Service, she could have avoided killing her 90 year old oak trees

Overall, we would suggest if your oak tree was pruned between April and July, watch for signs of oak wilt. The beginning of August is when you would start to see symptoms. These would include browning, obvious shedding of green leaves, branch dieback, and wilting. 

If you do see these early warning signs, our suggestion is to scrape off one to two inches of bark on the affected branch (with wilted or damaged leaves with early leaf drop); underneath the bark, look for “streaking”, this will be an early sign of oak wilt. 

Contact Rent A Monkey Tree Service today to get a free estimate. We service the entire Salt Lake City Metro. 

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image of rent a monkey employee working

(801) 895-4676


During bids we practice social distancing and wear masks to make customers feel comfortable. We don’t pressure to shake hands, enter your home, or contaminate any area. We will happily work with you to make you feel safe. 

Most jobs vary considerably. Reach out for a bid, and we will arrive on site to give you an immediate estimate. We can typically bid your job within a day or two, and have it scheduled next week! 

Depending on the job we will quote jobs outside of the Salt Lake City Metro. Call, email, or text to see if you qualify for a bid. You can also send detailed photos in an email or text describing the job so we can give you an idea of price. 

Of course! Rent A Monkey is fully insured. 

We climb trees of any size. But if you are nervous about a dead tree, an extremely tall tree, or a tree hanging right over your house that isn’t climbable, using a crane can be the best option for certain jobs. 

If we are pruning your tree to trim branches and improve the health of your tree, we will not use climbing spikes. We will only use climbing spikes for tree removal. 

If you’re not home while we are at your residence that is perfectly fine, if we need to know anything just call before hand. We’re here to help! 

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30+ Years of Experience in Tree Care

Our crew has a combined experience of over 30 years in the tree climbing industry. We stand out from our competition with a professional appearance and attitude, fast communication, effective results, and consistent happy customers. 

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(801) 895-4676