Prune a holly tree by donning protective clothes, inspecting the tree, removing dead and damaged wood, pruning awkward branches and thinning dense growth. You need pesticides, a ladder, pruning shears and a saw.
- Put on protective clothing
Since holly trees have sharp, prickly leaves protective clothing has to be worn. Put on safety glasses, gloves and a long sleeved-shirt at the very least.
- Inspect the tree
Stand back and inspect the tree. Look for diseased wood and pest infestations, dead and damaged limbs, and awkward or unwieldy branches. Plan how you are going to prune. You want to start at the lower branches and work your way up, saving the middle of the tree for last.
- Remove dead, damaged and diseased wood
Remove any dead and damaged branches. If an entire branch is diseased, cut it off. If there are only a few wounds, treat the area with pesticides.
- Prune awkward branches
Prune awkward branches that cross, intersect or rub against other branches. Remove branches that grow downward or are angled poorly. Set up a ladder to reach higher branches.
- Thin dense growth
Thin out the branches in the middle of the tree to allow for air flow and sunlight. Remove spindly or thin branches, as well as crossing branches. Be careful not to cut the branches in the middle too short, which can prevent the tree from absorbing necessary sunlight.