Part of my training to become a Certified Arborist focused on the art of pruning. Pruning has many objectives, methods and results. It's important to have a clear objective before pruning to get the results you are working for. Autumn is the perfect time of year to get a good look at the structure of your trees because as the leaves fall, the "bones" become visible.
Pruning should never be done just for "pruning's sake". Every leaf is a food making machine and therefore should not be removed without good reason. A good rule of thumb is to never remove more than 25% of a tree's foliage in one season.
Consider your objective. Is it:
- to improve the vitality (health) of your tree/shrub
- to provide roof clearance
- to "tuck back" a limb that hits you in the head when you're on the rider mower
- to stimulate the production of more fruit
There are many possibilities, but don't move forward unless you're clear on what it is that you want to accomplish.
Pruning ornamentals and shade trees is a bit more daunting which is why it's a good idea to consult with a qualified tree care expert who is trained in tree and woody plant health care. A Certified Arborist can offer you expert advice and suggestions on how plants, people and structures can co-exist in a shared space.
The thing to remember with pruning, especially large shade trees, is there's no putting it back once it's cut. Just like the carpenter's rule of thumb is to "measure twice, cut once", decisions on what limb or limbs to take should be left to the professional. A Certified Arborist knows trees - their species, their structural tendency, their typical response to pruning....they know which type of tree bark will tear more readily than others. Details like these are what ensure proper cuts are made to maximize the healing processes of the tree.