When branches are weak, hang down too far, grow into power lines or make it difficult to see, it is time to consider tree trimming.

In addition to the dangers posed by tree branches, an overgrowth of branches may block sunlight, air, and water from reaching all parts of the tree. When branches are diseased or dead, pruning them off helps to strengthen the rest of the tree.

Finally, tree trimming can help to shape trees for the best appearance possible.

Before you decide to prune your trees, you should consider five basic guidelines:

1) Make sure you are trimming for the right reasons.

If you find that you constantly have to prune for safety purposes, it may be better to remove the tree. Larger and faster growing trees require a lot of space. Always consider the necessary space and choose to plant trees accordingly.

2) Consideration for natural growth.

You want to work with the shape that is natural to the type of tree. Is the tree shaped like a cone, as with pines, or a rounder shape that comes with oaks, maples, and other deciduous trees?

The shape is directly related to the way the branches grow and divide. It is never a good idea to try to force a tree into a shape that does not fit with the manner in which its branches grow.

3) Discriminate in which branches you select for tree trimming.

Branches that rub against each other, block other branches, or those that are dying off or are weakly attached should be the first to be removed. A good rule of thumb is to remove just 25 to 30 percent of the branches on a yearly basis.

4) Tree pruning involves choosing the right time to trim.

Autumn and winter are considered to be the best times for pruning. Trees tend to heal faster when they are pruned during these seasons.

5) Consider your experience.

If you are not experienced in tree trimming, you should bring in an expert. Incorrect timing and methods can have devastating effects on tree health and appearance.