Weed Trimming Guide


Trimming is an essential skill when preparing cannabis buds for smoking. Knowing how to trim weed will lead to a smoother experience when smoking it.

There’s also the benefit of better-looking buds once it’s bagged or stored, which is vital if you’re a commercial grower.

Why Is It Important To Trim Marijuana?

Regardless of whether you’re a commercial or home grower, trimming weed is a crucial part of storing, bagging, or smoking your buds.

Trimming reduces the amount of unnecessary plant matter and the amount of moisture content in your buds which helps greatly in the process of curing.

Trimmed buds provide a smoother experience, as much of the unnecessary plant matter, such as its sugar and fan leaves has been removed.

These parts, even though they contain traces of trichomes, are harsh to smoke. Trimming off the sugar and fan leaves gets you that desired smooth experience 

The reduced plant matter also increases the appeal of the buds since they would all be uniform in size and shape.

The buds now have a tighter appearance which is what many cannabis connoisseurs look for when browsing through a dispensary.

Lastly, trimming weed also helps with storage because you won’t have to worry about your buds becoming contaminated with mold due to the high moisture content from the leaves.

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However, there’s a bit more to storing your marijuana buds than just trimming them.

Learn more about storing your marijuana buds.

When Is A Good Time To Trim Cannabis?

An important part of knowing how to trim buds is first understanding when you can start trimming them. It’s recommended that you don’t heavily trim your cannabis plants right as they’re about to flower. 

Doing heavy trimming too early could potentially delay, or worse, completely stall your cannabis plants from flowering.

However, if you trim too late, there’s a high chance that you’ll end up with small buds due to overcrowding from the fan leaves.

You should trim your cannabis buds during the final two weeks of their flowering phase. Even then, you have to be meticulous about it.

Only remove the fan leaves on your cannabis plants because they can potentially overcrowd and shade the bud sites of your cannabis plant.

Additionally, you can also flush your cannabis plants before you start trimming them since flushing syncs well with trimming.

Flushing is a way to maximize the quality of your buds by forcing the roots of your cannabis plants to absorb and use any leftover nutrients in the soil, resulting in smoother and more flavorful buds. 

Like trimming, most recommend flushing during the last two weeks of the flowering phase. Learn more about how and when to flush marijuana plants

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How To Trim Weed Buds

Now that you know the why and when to trim weed buds, let’s get into how to trim weed buds.

First, remove the large fan leaves from the branches of your cannabis plants.

Do this lightly throughout the last two weeks of flowering to avoid buds from being shaded and overcrowded. Upon harvest, either hand-trim the fan leaves or have a weed trimming machine do it for you.

The second step involves removing the buds from the branches using scissors or shears. The cutting tools you use must be sterile and clean to keep your buds from becoming contaminated with mold later once stored.

Lastly, with a clean tray and container beside you, start trimming the exposed bottom stem of your buds as well as any branches that come up.

Afterward, you should lightly remove the sugar leaves that poke out of the buds, making sure that you only remove ones that don’t have as much resin as the others.

You only want to remove some of the sugar leaves because they contain THC as well. Additionally, they also hold the buds together, so removing all of them can potentially result in lesser quality buds that look loose and airy.

Marijuana Trimming Techniques (Wet vs Dry Cannabis Trimming)

When it comes to trimming cannabis buds, there are two ways to go about it, dry or wet trimming. It’s your preference in terms of which one to choose-  both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Wet marijuana trimming

The process of wet trimming means you trim your cannabis buds the moment you cut your plant down. It’s typically done if you want to have an easier time removing the sugar leaves while leaving your buds completely intact.

wet marijuana trimming
Wet marijuana trimming

It also leaves you with tighter buds that look much better than dry-trimmed buds.

Wet trimming has the added benefit of making the drying process much easier and faster since the reduced plant material has less moisture content.

It’s also a lot safer as it reduces the odds of mold growth during the drying process of your buds.

The one caveat for wet trimming, though, is that you’ll find yourself swapping scissors constantly due to it getting gunked up with the sticky resin, which makes the entire process difficult.

 Dry marijuana trimming
Dry marijuana trimming

Dry marijuana trimming

On the other hand, dry trimming offers a more straightforward trimming process. For this option, leave your cut cannabis plants to dry for several days.

As a result, the trichomes on your plants harden, making it a lot less of an ordeal to trim the branches and the sugar leaves from the buds.

However, since your buds have now dried, they’re brittle and are prone to breaking apart.

You’ll need steady hands when manicuring your buds if you wish to preserve their THC level and trichomes.

The final product is at least worth the effort.

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By slowly drying the plant and its buds, you preserve a lot of its terpene content, which gets lost in a lot of fast-drying methods.

Comparison Chart: Wet trim vs Dry trim

When comparing dry trimming vs wet trimming, you must consider a few factors, and weigh the strengths and weaknesses of both methods.

FeaturesWet trimmingDry trimming
Easier to manicure✔❌
Richer terpene content❌✔
Faster drying✔❌
Better looking buds✔❌
Less likely to be contaminated with mold✔❌
Smoother smoking experience❌✔

Hand Trimmed vs Machine Trimmed Weed

If you’re a home grower, the idea of having a weed trimming machine seems a bit of an overkill. After all, you’d likely only have 3-4 cannabis plants growing at a time.

However, there is merit to having a trimming machine of your own, even as a home grower.

Having a trimming machine do the work for you is a lot less time-consuming than having to trim the cannabis buds yourself manually.

Besides being a lot more efficient, it also saves you from buying heaps of coconut oil and rubbing alcohol to use on your hands and tools.

And although you will lose some potency in your buds due to the rough tumbling mechanism of the machine trimmers, you’ll at least have a less messy time in both the process of trimming and cleaning up.

Scissors for marijuana trimming
Scissors for marijuana trimming

Marijuana Trimming Tools

When preparing to trim your cannabis buds, you’ll need to prepare a clean and sterile area and grab the following tools:

  • Scissors
  • Clean surface
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Storage for the trimmed buds

Scissors (or shears) are the main tools you’ll use when trimming your cannabis. You’ll need several pairs depending on which method you opt for.

There’s always the chance you might find yourself with scissors that are stuck together due to resin.

Additionally, when picking scissors, choose ergonomically designed ones so that it doesn’t hurt your hand when you’re trimming.

Lastly, you’ll need two types of scissors, large ones for branches and small ones for the sugar leaves.

A clean surface, likely a stainless steel tray, is where you’ll place your buds before being trimmed and manicured. Any tray will do so long as it’s sterilized beforehand to avoid contamination of your cannabis buds.

If you want to collect the kief from your cannabis buds, place a cooling rack over the tray. The rack holds the buds, and the tray collects the hardened trichomes.

Cleaning supplies are a necessity from start to finish. It’s up to you whether you use rubbing alcohol or coconut oil to clean your hands and tools; just be sure to have plenty of it.

Keep a bottle on hand or have it in a bowl, along with a clean cloth to wipe the resin off your scissors.

Lastly, you’ll need a mason jar for all of your trimmed buds. Glass containers are the best to use when it comes to storing cannabis buds because, unlike plastic ones, the trichomes won’t stick to the side of mason jars.

Additionally, mason jars are airtight, which ensures the shelf life of your stored cannabis buds.

Trimming Marijuana Plant
Trimming Marijuana Plant

How to Trim Marijuana Plants: A Summary

Trimming your cannabis buds is one of the most important processes when it comes to enjoying freshly grown marijuana.

It removes any unnecessary plant material such as the sugar leaves and stem, which are harsh to smoke due to the chlorophyll that they contain.

There are two ways to trim your buds: wet trimming or dry trimming. Both options have their pros and cons, and although wet trimming is ideal, what you decide to use is your preference.

And regardless of which method of trimming you choose, it’s recommended that you prepare.

Gather the necessary tools beforehand while also mentally preparing yourself for a process that takes a lot of patience and effort to do.

However, you can speed up the process by purchasing a weed trimming machine, which will not only save you time but also money in the long run.

Although you would lose some potency because the rough tumbling would knock a lot of the trichomes out of your buds, it’s still a worthwhile investment because of how much time it saves you.

FAQ’s About Marijuana Trimming

What Can You Do With Cannabis Trim?

Cannabis trim is the plant matter such as sugar leaves and pruned buds that you snipped away during trimming. It often includes some of the trichomes (kief) that fall off during the trimming process. Trim is usually low quality and is typically made into hash or edibles.

Should you smoke while trimming?

No. Although trimming is a long and monotonous process, especially if you’re doing it by hand, smoking wouldn’t do anything to change it. If anything, it’s a detriment as you could mess up during manicuring and lose nugs in the process.

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