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How to Prune Properly

Helpful resources and instructions for proper pruning

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When we plant a tree, we hope that it will grow tall and straight; that it will have a full, healthy crown with strong, well-spaced branches; that it will cast a broad expanse of sheltering shade; that it will resist damage by wind and ice; and that it will be easy to maintain. Without proper pruning, however, a tree can become unhealthy and expensive to maintain.

An unmaintained or poorly maintained tree is more likely to become hazardous, with branches that break during storms, have weak and unsightly shoots, and interfere with traffic, pedestrians and overhead wires. To ensure that Portland’s urban forest continues to enhance our daily lives, we must properly care for the young trees we plant.

Before pruning any street tree or other publicly owned tree, you must obtain a Street Tree Pruning Permit from Urban Forestry. 

For Private Treespermit is only required for Native trees in c, p, or v overlay zones.

Street Tree Pruning Standards and Brochure


Tips for Hiring an Arborist

Trees are a slow-growing resource and tree work can be expensive. To protect yourself and your trees, make sure to hire a professional arborist.

Local Tree Care Providers

The City maintains a list of Local Tree Care Providers.

Do Not Top Trees!

Topping is not permitted on publicly owned trees (including trees in the right-of-way between the sidewalk and the curb) in Portland

Pruning for Visibility, Safety, and Clearance

Pruning around sidewalks, stop signs, streetlights, and utilities

Pruning Mature Trees

Mature trees are an asset for the entire community. Proper care will help ensure mature trees will keep providing benefits to homeowners and the community for years to come

Pruning Young  Trees

What to prune during the first 5 years after the tree has been planted

When Do I Prune My Tree?

Find the ideal season to prune your trees

Proper Pruning Cuts

How to properly prune a tree

Pruning Types

Pruning activities are classified by intensity and form. Each type of pruning technique has a recommended timeframe

Questions? Call Urban Forestry at 503-823-TREE (8733) or email trees@portlandoregon.gov