Proper pruning and shaping of garden trees is essential for their health and optimal growth. Pruning not only improves the appearance of the tree, but it also helps to remove dead or diseased branches, promote new growth, and increase the overall strength of the tree. However, it is important to know how to properly prune and shape a tree to avoid causing damage or harm.

1. Know when to prune: The best time to prune a tree depends on the species. For example, most deciduous trees should be pruned during the dormant season, while most evergreens should be pruned in the early spring before new growth appears.

2. Tools: Always use sharp, clean tools when pruning. This includes pruning shears, loppers, and a pruning saw. Avoid using dull or rusty tools as they can cause jagged cuts and increase the risk of disease.

3. Remove dead or diseased branches: Dead or diseased branches should be removed as soon as they are noticed. This is because they can harbor pests and diseases that can spread to the rest of the tree.

4. Remove crossing branches: Crossing branches can rub against each other and cause damage to the bark. These branches should be removed to prevent future problems.

5. Thin out the canopy: Thinning out the canopy allows more sunlight and air to reach the interior of the tree. This can help to promote new growth and improve the overall health of the tree.

6. Remove suckers and water sprouts: Suckers and water sprouts are small branches that grow from the base of the tree or from the trunk. They should be removed because they don't produce fruit or flowers and they compete with the tree for resources.

7. Keep the natural shape: When pruning, try to maintain the natural shape of the tree. Avoid removing too much at once or creating a tree with a "lollipop" shape.

8. Properly cut the branches: Always make a clean cut just above a bud or a side branch. This will prevent the tree from bleeding sap, which can attract pests and diseases. Also, make sure to cut at a slight angle so that water runs away from the cut.

9. Properly dispose of the cuttings: Dispose of the cuttings properly. Keep the area around the tree clean and free of debris to prevent pests and diseases from spreading.

In conclusion, proper pruning and shaping of garden trees is essential for their health and optimal growth. Knowing when to prune, using the right tools, removing dead or diseased branches, removing crossing branches, thinning out the canopy, removing suckers and water sprouts, keeping the natural shape, properly cutting the branches and properly disposing of the cuttings are some of the key steps to follow when pruning and shaping a tree. With proper care and maintenance, your trees will thrive and provide you with many years of beauty and enjoyment.