Over Pruned Tree: Can It Be Saved?

Can you save an over-pruned tree? The answer depends on many factors, and in this post, Empire Tree Experts, Santa Rosa’s tree-trimming experts, answer this question in great detail. 

If you’re unsure of good pruning techniques, hire a professional arborist. It’s worth the investment because over-pruning can kill a healthy tree. Even if it doesn’t, the parts of the tree you trim could take a long time to recover. 

over pruned tree

What Tree Species Can Tolerate Over-Pruning?

If you have a healthy mature tree of one of the following species, you may be able to save the plant: 

  • Forsythia 
  • Spirea
  • Dogwood
  • Honeysuckle
  • Lilac
  • Weigela
  • Hydrangea
  • Potentilla

Check the tree species and see if it can handle hard pruning. 

Be Patient

An over-pruned tree loses vitality because it doesn’t have enough foliage to generate the food it needs. Therefore, the tree will take some time to recover, and while it does so, it puts its energy into sprouting a new canopy from the top of the tree. These may be scraggly but leave them alone. You shouldn’t prune your tree again for at least one to two years. 

Fertilize the Tree

The next step is to ensure your tree has the right nutritional support. Check the soil for mineral deficiencies, and correct these. You can also carefully dig in nutrient-rich compost to make sure that your tree has plenty of nutrients when it needs them. 

Doing so gives the tree the necessary resources to support its growth spurt. With good nutrition, every new tree branch will be strong and healthy. 


Over-pruning distresses the tree, so you need to do everything you can to make it comfortable. Consider mulching, because it:

  • Smothers weeds
  • Regulates the soil temperature
  • Helps the soil retain water
  • Provides valuable nutrients as the organic matter decomposes

Water Your Tree

Your next step is to monitor the soil for its moisture content. Your tree should, ideally speaking, be in soil that drains well but that is moist about two inches down. If the ground is dry at this depth, it’s time to water the tree. This is especially important in cases where you are trying to repair a cracked tree trunk, as adequate moisture is crucial for healing.

After over-pruning, consider deeply watering your tree once a week, but always check that the soil is dry first. The reason is that your tree will need extra water to support the new growth. 

Wound Dressing

Whether to use wound dressing or not is a topic that divides gardeners. Conventional wisdom holds that it’s best to dress wounds, but the latest research suggests the opposite. 

We only recommend applying a dressing if you pruned the tree due to it contracting oak wilt disease or a pest infestation. In this case, it’s necessary to prevent reinfection, and the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

Contact Our Team for the Right Advice

Now that you know you can save an over-pruned tree with the right steps, it’s time to look at other issues, such as pruning vs. trimming. Alternatively, skip ahead and call Empire Tree Experts at (707) 521-2151 to schedule a consultation today!

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