The major questions on pruning are: how to prune when to prune, why prune, and when to stop pruning. The how and when vary, depending on species, but December through January is a good time for pruning trees and most shrubs. So prepare yourself.
The “why” is for the shape of the plant, the seven-foot rule, the health of the plant, and the protection of surrounding structures. The shape and health of the plant can go hand in hand, but try not to have trees that look like broccoli. The seven-foot rule (in case you’re wondering) is the minimum height above the ground for the lower branches of a tree. Pruning plants to avoid damage to your house is at the top of the list. This brings me to the Crape Myrtle. Once again, I (along with Neal, Howard, and countless others) urge everyone, do not top the Crape Myrtles. The only case when a Crape Myrtle should be topped is when it can cause damage to the house.
The “when to stop” and “how-to” are the big questions. The stopping is as much of an art form as the how-to. The only answer I have is “it’s always easier to take more off than it is to stick it back on”. Go slow and think beyond the cuts. So, if you are a do-it-yourselfer, educate yourself, get after it, and be careful. For me, I gave up climbing trees with sharp tools and chainsaws years ago. I now hire a professional. Yes, it can be expensive but it’s so much cheaper than an ambulance ride. Before hiring a tree trimming company, please check them out first. If you pick the best, that’s what you’ll get. As a general rule, I don’t plug companies, but the guys at Advance Tree Care have always done a sensational job at my house. And don’t forget Arborilogical Services, they are another company with phenomenal service.