Tree Pruning

Tree Pruning

Tree pruning – On mature trees, pruning is required to remove dead and dying branches to maintain tree health and safety. This type of pruning is referred to as cleaning. Then there is crown thinning, the removal of live branches to reduce crown density. This significantly reduces wind resistance and potential storm damage. Thinning should only be done on trees where the crown is “too dense”. Thinning should be concentrated on the outer portions of the canopy leaving as many branches within the interior crown as possible. The pruning of trees can be a very dangerous operation and should be undertaken by a qualified and experienced tree surgeon. If the target cannot be reached from ground level, then the employment of a professional company is by far the safest choice for your own personal safety, other members of the public, your property and the health of your trees.

SML Tree & Hedge Servives provide: Tree Pruning, Crown Thinning, Crown Lifting, Crown Reduction, Pollarding services

More information about tree pruning

Trees in the city frequently outgrow their surroundings and it becomes necessary to maintain them. It can not be understated how much skill is required to prune correctly. Drop-crotch and target pruning are essential to preserve natural shape and vigour – a practice that is too often overlooked.

When should trees be pruned?
Cut larger limbs while trees and shrubs are dormant. The best time to prune or trim trees and shrubs is during the late winter while they’re dormant. Pruning during the dormant season is ideal because: The wounds heal faster, keeping the plant strong.

Why is it important to prune trees?
Pruning fruit trees is a necessary chore that improves sunlight penetration and increase air movement through the tree. Pruning also develops the structure of the tree so that it can support the crop load. Damaged limbs are susceptible to disease and insect infestations that could further damage the tree.

Crown Thinning

Crown thinning is a pruning technique primarily used on hardwood trees. Crown thinning is the selective removal of stems and branches to increase light penetration and air movement throughout the crown of a tree.

Why Crown Thin a tree?
The intent is to improve a tree’s structure and form while making life uncomfortable for tree pests.

Stems with narrow, V-shaped angles of attachment often form included bark and should be selected for removal first. (We leave branches with strong U-shaped angles of attachment). The included bark forms a bark wedge when two stems grow at sharp angles to one another. These ingrown wedges prevent strong attachment of stems often causing a crack at the point below where the branches meet. Removing one or more of the stems will allow the other stem(s) to take over.

Crown Lifting

Crown lifting is the removal of lower branches. Crown lifting is carried out to increase the clearance between the ground level and the lower branches either to allow access below the tree, to clear sight lines, improve views or allow light to penetrate to the ground. 

By removing the lower branches you can: 
  • keep away from traffic 
  • keep them away from a buildings 
  • make signs visible that were installed too far off the ground 
  • let in more light 
  • open up a desirable view 
  • create a lower trunk free of branches. 
This type of pruning does much less damage to a tree than reducing the canopy size.  It is best done gradually over a period of years. 

Crown Reduction

Reducing canopy size stresses the tree because of the cuts required.
Unlike a thinning cut, a drop-crotching cut does not cut back to a natural boundary, this means that decay can spread quickly inside cut branches, for this reason it is best not to perform crown reduction if at all possible. 

This is a more extensive and severe form of pruning and is used to: 
  • Reduce the weight of potentially dangerous limbs. 
  • Balance a misshapen tree, for example, following storm damage, or after bad pruning. 
  • Prevent trees obstructing or damaging buildings and property. 
  • Prevent trees from interfering with overhead telephone and power lines. 

Topping, shearing, tipping, and rounding over are not appropriate techniques for reducing the size of the tree because they compromise the tree’s structure and can cause decay. 


Pollarding is a woodland management method of encouraging lateral branches by cutting off a tree stem or minor branches two or three metres above ground level. 
The tree is then allowed to regrow after the initial cutting, but once begun, pollarding requires regular maintenance by pruning. This will eventually result in a somewhat expanded (or swollen) top to the tree trunk with multiple new side and top shoots growing from it. 
A tree that has been pollarded is known as a pollard. A tree which has been allowed to grow without being cut as a pollard (or coppice stool) is called a maiden or maiden tree. Pollarding older trees may result in the death of the tree, especially if there are no branches below the cut, or the tree is of an inappropriate species. Pollarding is sometimes abused in attempts to curb the growth of older or taller trees but when performed properly it is useful in the practice of arboriculture for tree management. 
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