Marin Master Gardeners
University of California
Marin Master Gardeners

Fire-smart Landscaping - Prune

Pruning Quick Check List

  • Keep all branches a minimum of 10’ from the roof and chimney
  • Remove dead or diseased branches
  • Don’t top trees
  • Limb up trees 6’-15’ from the ground or up to 1/3 of their height

Depending on the plants in your garden, pruning can be on-going but with different plants throughout the garden at different times of the year.  Please see the pruning section of the UC Marin Master Gardener web site.

Every few years or as needed:

  • Cut back vines and low-growing groundcovers (e.g., ivy) to remove build-up of dry stems and dead leaves
  • Cut back twiggy shrubs (e.g., baccharis, rosemary) to renew
  • Thin and reduce tree canopies to remove twiggy growth, maintain separation between trees, and reduce overall fuel load
  • Keep lowest branches of trees pruned up ten to twenty feet, depending on the height of the tree, the height of nearby vege- tation, and the distance between them
  • Avoid topping trees as this causes excessive branching and twiggy growth which can catch embers and lead to a canopy fire that is harder for fire fighters to fight

Reference Materials for further reading

Pruning Trees and Shrubs: http://celosangeles.ucdavis.edu/files/96662.pdf

The Right Time to Prune Shrubs: http://cesutter.ucdavis.edu/files/102457.pdf

Pruning Mature Landscape Trees and Save Money: http://cesutter.ucdavis.edu/files/102457.pdf

Pruning Flowering Shrubs: https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/430/430-457/430-457.html

Pruning Evergreen Trees: https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/430/430-457/430-457.html

Prune like a Pro:  http://marinmg.ucanr.edu/Our_Projects/Leaflet/Prune_like_a_pro/

Trees: https://ucanr.edu/sites/fire/PrePost/Landscaping/Trees/

Webmaster Email: banielsen@ucanr.edu