Holly trees are beautiful evergreens that bloom small white flowers and have spiny, deep green foliage that is white-tipped. Images of Christmas typically spring to mind when thinking of this type of tree, and it is a wonderful plant to use for landscaping. Like all trees, you will occasionally have to prune it.
In general, all trees should be pruned on a regular basis. Any dead, diseased or damaged branches should be cut away from the tree when you first notice them. This is a necessary practice to ensure the overall wellbeing and health of your tree. Pruning these parts will promote the growth of new, healthy buds. However, pruning serves a dual purpose, as you can also do so to maintain the tree's natural shape, or to give it one of your own choosing.
Holly trees grow in a pyramid shape when they are still young. However, as they age and grow, you will notice that your tree has grown into a more open and irregular shape. This can lead to the tree becoming unruly in appearance as well as quite tall, perhaps more so than you want it to be; pruning will be necessary to regain its natural shape. The best time to prune your holly tree is in December, when the tree is in dormancy.
When you cut your tree, make sure you have a good, sharp, clean pair of pruning shears. Keep them properly sanitized by cleaning them with rubbing alcohol or bleach. This is extremely important in order to prevent the spread of disease among your plants. Make your cuts first at the topmost branches, and be careful when doing so. You might want to have a family member, friend or neighbor holding the ladder for you as you climb up to do the cutting.
Avoid pruning lower branches, because this can lead to the holly tree being trimmed in an irregular shape if you accidentally cut those parts too short. Also, cutting lower branches too short can lead to problems due to inadequate sunlight exposure, which can cause the entire plant to die.