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How to Keep a Tree Small – 4 Easy Steps!

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The trees are wonderful!

They not only provide us with shade and fruits but also play a key role in befitting the soil.

While trees look good and have a lot of benefits, managing them can be difficult. Trees can get a little out of hand when they start to grow a little too much. It can cause a problem, especially if you live in a suburban area where you are short of room.

In such cases, one wonders how to keep a tree small. You have been lucky because trees can be kept small.

All hail the technique called pruning.

In this guide, we will tell you how to keep a tree small in four super easy steps so that you can enjoy the advantages of trees without them being overbearing.

So, let’s begin!

How to Keep a Tree Small
How to keep a tree small? – Image via Miłosz Klinowski.

Understand the Technique to Keep Trees Small

Pruning is a technique where you cut off parts of a tree you do not want. It means if a particular branch is growing too long, you can snip it away as per your liking.

To put it very vaguely, it’s like a haircut for the trees.

A snip here and a snip there, and you have a new small tree in front of you.

The Time to Prune

Wouldn’t it be great if we could prune the trees whenever we wanted?

Alas! That’s not the case.

Trees have a natural cycle, and we need to follow it when we want to prune them to keep them small. We recommend you prune your trees in the fall season to avoid complications.

It is because the trees are in a state of dormancy.

The Frequency of Pruning

How often your tree would require pruning depends upon your particular tree.

Typically, you can prune your tree once or twice a year. Always read the signals your tree is giving you before grabbing any pruners.

Tools Needed to Keep a Tree Small

To learn how to keep a tree small, you need to get your hands on a few tools.

Chances are you already own some of these. If your tools are rusty and old, we recommend you polish and sharpen them so that the pruning process goes smoothly.

Take a look at the list below to countercheck the tools:

  • Hand pruners
  • Pruning saw
  • Loopers
  • Gardening gloves
  • Shears
  • Fertilizer or compost

Once you’ve got all of the above items, you can learn how to keep a tree small.

Related article: Choose the Best Tree Pruner from the Top 5!

Factors to Consider Before Pruning a Tree!

Here are some factors you should consider beforehand.

1. The Type of Tree

The growth factor and response rate to pruning differs across the types of trees.

If you have a tree that does not grow very quickly, we recommend you proceed with pruning with caution, as cutting the branches may result in new ones not growing.

2. The Age of Your Tree

Just like humans, old trees do not respond well to stressors. When you cut off a tree branch in the pruning process, you induce stress on the plant. It can result in the death of the tree.

Hence always consider the age of the tree before you start pruning.

3. The Nature of Soil

Sometimes to keep the height of the plant small, the trunk needs to be managed as well.

If the soil in which your tree is planted is shallow, we advise you not to proceed with the cutting in the first place to avoid complications.

4. The Size of the Roots

The plant is not good at making new roots and stems when the roots are dense.

Always check for the root structure of your plant before beginning. The root structure depends upon conditions such as:

  • The nature of the tree
  • The type of tree
  • Possibility of root competition in the soil

Let’s now move toward learning how to keep a tree small.

Related article: How Big Do Bonsai Trees Get and How to Care for Them?

How to Keep a Tree Small? | The Steps!

Execute the steps below on how to keep a tree small:

Step 1: Take a Look at the Branches

Examine the branches of the tree that have been growing too much.

  • Generally, you want to cut branches longer than 2 feet.
  • Also, look for signs of health in a branch. If a branch seems weak and dry, it is good to cut it off so the nutrients are transferred to other branches for better growth.

Then, move to the next step.

Step 2: Cut Away the Branches

Now it’s time to make some cuts!

  • Get your pruning saw and pruners and cut away the branches you do not want.
  • Be careful at this stage, as you do not want to cut yourself.
  • Remember, if you want to reduce the height of the plant to keep it small, focus on cutting the top branches.
  • Cutting off branches from the top will direct the plant’s energy horizontally, making it small.

Now, make the tree grow the way you want.

Step 3: Craft Heading Cuts

Once you have removed unwanted branches, it is time to direct the tree growth.

  • Using your loopers, cut in the direction you want new branches to grow.
  • Remember, each cut will allow the plant to grow in a lateral direction.
  • Please do not go overboard on this, as it can result in branches being tangled later when they grow out.

We recommend one to two cuts per branch.

Step 4: Add in Those Nutrients

Once you have done all the cutting, add some fertilizer to the soil. It will ensure the tree gets enough nutrients to make new and healthy branches.

We recommend using organic fertilizer, but you can use whatever is available.


You just learned how to keep a tree small via four easy steps.

Here’s a video to help you with pruning:

How to keep a tree small? | How to Prune Trees – YouTube

That would be all for today.


While big trees look magnificent, they are tough to maintain.

It is where small trees step in! You may have seen and heard about them and wondered if you could also make your trees small.

The process of keeping a tree small is a simple one.

Our guide on how to keep a tree small via four easy steps will help you keep the size you want for your tree.

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