Many trees benefit from trimming. The process removes dead branches that could attract fungi and lead to an infection. It also increases airflow and space between the branches, so the leaves can transpire and capture more sunshine. The best time to trim most trees is in late winter when they are still dormant. If you are opting to trim the trees yourself, there are a few tips you will want to follow to make the process easier on your trees.
1. Sanitize Your Shears
There is less risk of infecting your tree in the winter when the weather is cool. (Bacteria like it warm, for the most part.) Still, you are cutting into the tree's interior tissues when you trim, so you want to make sure the tools you use are sanitary. You can sanitize shears just by wiping them off with a little rubbing alcohol. If you trim more than one tree on the same day, make sure you re-sanitize after every tree.
2. Leave a Little Branch
Your instinct may be to cut the branch as close to the trunk as you can. After all, this looks nice and tidy. Actually, though, you are better off leaving a little nub. It does not have to be long — an inch or two is fine. Trees have a lot of vascular tissue in the areas where their branches tie into the trunk, so if you cut too close to the trunk, you will be cutting through the tissue, leading to more fluid loss, which is harder on the tree.
3. Don't Take Too Much
Don't get too aggressive with your trimming. This is not like giving a haircut. If you remove too many branches at once, when spring comes, the tree won't have enough leaves to harvest the sunshine it needs to make food. Usually, it's recommended to take no more than 1/3 of the branches at once, and you should shoot for less than that if possible.
4. Dispose of the Branches
Once you have removed the extra branches, burn them or compost them far away from the tree. If they happen to contain any fungal spores, you don't want those to be around when it warms up — your tree could then get an infection.
Good luck! And remember, if trimming your tree seems to be too much of a burden, there are tree trimming companies like Columbia Tree & Lawn Service who will do it for you.