Pruning of tree limbs on a regularly-scheduled basis will improve tree health, structural integrity and produce a more aesthetically appealing tree. Yet, pruning can be dangerous both to the tree and to you if not done properly.
Guidelines for Tree Trimming
Pruning near power lines should only be done by FPL or FPL authorized contractors.
Homeowners should only prune limbs from the ground and only with hand tools. This is a safety measure. Only trained professionals with proper equipment for elevated trimming should perform work off the ground. DO NOT PROP LADDERS AGAINST YOUR TREES NEAR POWER LINES. In any case, mounting a ladder to perform trimming is dangerous because it can tip over. However, ladders against trees which are anywhere near power lines can conduct electricity and result in severe injury or death to anyone who touches the ladder or tree. Please consult FPL or a professional, licensed trimmer to do all elevated pruning.
Trees should be pruned for the first time 2 and 5 years after planting, then every 5 to 7 years thereafter.
Pruning is best done from winter to early spring (before new growth starts) because wounds close quickly as growth starts in the spring and insect and disease infestations are less likely.
Trimming as little of the tree as possible should be the objective due to the stress pruning places on a tree.
Remember not to "top" your trees, and don't let landscaping companies do it either. Tree topping, otherwise known as stubbing or heading, is harmful to the health of your tree. Trees are usually topped when they grow too large or into utility wires. There are several alternatives to senselessly topping a tree on your property:
- Start out right by planting trees that will fit your available space when they reach maturity
- Begin proper pruning early in the life of a tree
- To slow the growth of a tree- avoid the use of nitrogen fertilizer
- Prune properly and regularly. A light pruning every three years will keep your tree in healthy condition
Working with a Professional Tree Trimmer
When working with a professional, be sure to check that the company is licensed and certified in Broward County, and that all staff has been trained in proper tree trimming. While permits are not required to prune a tree in Fort Lauderdale, tree pruning must be done according to acceptable national tree pruning standards..Commercial tree trimmers must have Broward County Tree Trimmer’s licensing to prune within Fort Lauderdale. Additional information can be found using these links:
For more information, see Working with a Tree Service Company,
The first document is a two-page fact sheet (No. ENH 848) produced by UF-IFAS regarding shade trees in specific. Shade trees grow differently in the landscape than they do in the forest because of more available sunlight. Careful pruning maintains the structural integrity of these trees, maintains their beauty and health, and ensures that other plants can thrive too. The second link takes you to information on pruning palms including: Coconut Palm, Indian Date Palm, Queen Palm, Sabal Palms and more.
This is a summary of the Arbor Day Foundation's eight page bulletin on proper tree trimming. The webpage introduces "Eight good reasons not to \'top'" and "Topping vs. Pruning." If you would like a copy of the entire bulletin, you can order one from the foundation's website. We also stock a limited quantity. You can have one mailed to you, by contacting our City Forester Mark Williams at (954) 828-5785 or MAwilliams@fortlauderdale.gov.
Broward County - Proper Tree Pruning
This is the County's main page for information on tree pruning. There is extensive information on technique, pre-hurricane season preparation, and working with local tree service companies.