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Publication #ENH1063

Chapter 13—Developing a Preventative Pruning Program: Mature Trees1

Edward F. Gilman and Amanda Bisson2


A preventive pruning program should be designed to create structurally sound trunk and branch architecture that will sustain a tree for a long time. The goal with mature trees is to develop and maintain a sound structure to minimize hazards such as branch failure. No tree should be pruned without first establishing clearly defined objectives. This fact sheet describes seven main objectives, along with pruning types that help meet those objectives, which can be expanded or shortened to meet site conditions and customer expectations. It also describes how to determine a pruning cycle and how to implement a preventative pruning plan for mature trees.

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This document is ENH 1063 one of the Urban Forest Hurricane Recovery Program series of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation and the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date September 2007. Reviewed February 2017. Visit the EDIS website at and


Edward F. Gilman, professor; and Amanda Bisson, doctor in plant health; Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.