Online Course: Sensible Pruning for Beginners and Experts ($, UMass)

This is an online event

Number of CEUs


Special Topics- Sensible Pruning for Beginners & Experts

NRC 397X

Planted along roads or in yards, community trees provide many benefits; for every dollar invested in their care, trees provide up to five dollars in benefits. In this class, we will discuss all aspects of pruning - how-to, timing, tools, types, objectives - and how trees respond to pruning. The course is suitable for all levels of experience and does not require any previous knowledge of tree biology.

Course Description:

Pruning is arguably the most common arboricultural practice among professionals, and it’s commonly practiced by homeowners as well.
Pruning is the selective removal of plant parts to achieve an objective. Objectives may differ among professionals in different disciplines—
arborists, foresters, horticulturists, and orchardists often have different (and sometimes mutually exclusive) objectives. Pruning objectives
may also be different for homeowners, depending on the tree(s) on their property.
The focus of this course is pruning trees and shrubs in residential landscapes, including those growing in private yards, along public rights-ofway,
and in maintained public and private settings like parks, cemeteries, golf courses, apartment complexes, and college and business
campuses. The pruning objectives for these types of trees are not exactly the same—the city forester will be more concerned about reducing
risk and maintaining clearance for street trees while a homeowner may be mostly concerned with the aesthetics of a tree growing in their
backyard, away from targets that could be damaged by a falling branch.

Course Goals

Participants will have a better understanding of why pruning is necessary and how to articulate what pruning can accomplish (“pruning
objectives”). They will also learn how to match pruning types with pruning objectives, and more fully comprehend how trees and shrubs
respond to pruning.

Course Objectives

  1. Participants in the course should increase their understanding of the following important topics:
  2. 1. The connection between tree physiology and proper pruning (pruning types and pruning cuts)
  3. 2. Developing pruning objectives for a given tree (or shrub), its growing conditions, and client expectations
  4. 3. Choosing the appropriate pruning tool(s) for a job
  5. 4. Making appropriate pruning cuts to align with pruning type(s)

Required Texts:

  • Best Management Practices – Pruning 3rd Ed. (2019) [BMP]
  • Arborists Certification Study Guide 3rd Ed. (2010) [SG]
  • Routledge Handbook of Urban Forestry: [RH] purchase an e-copy or use an e-copy on reserve in the UMass library.

Additional Texts (not required, but helpful):

  • An Illustrated Guide to Pruning 3rd Ed. (2012) [IGP]
  • Structural Pruning (2013) [SP]

Course Requirements:

Your grade will be calculated as follows (out of 100 points total):

  1. 25 points – short multiple choice quizzes (online, open-book, 5 questions, 15 minute time limit)
  2. 25 points – class participation (submit 2 thoughtful questions about lectures and readings for each topic)
  3. 25 points – skills demonstration (upload video clips and digital images to demonstrate proficiency)
  4. 25 points – cumulative final exam (online, open-book, 25 questions, 60 minute time limit)