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  • Writer's pictureJen Wentworth

The 7 Types of Tree Pruning and Facts That You Should Know

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Pruning itself is the most common tree maintenance procedure. It is of the upmost importance to maintain safety, tree structure, and overall health of the tree.

When it comes to what the pruning looks like, it is up to the customer. After safety and health concerns have been addressed, the look and feel of the pruning should satisfy the customer's goals while making the tree aesthetically pleasing.

Proper understanding of how a tree will respond is crucial when making pruning cuts as improper techniques can lead to the tree being damaged for the rest of its life.

Improper thinning can come in many forms. For example, removing branches can take away from the trees stored resources, affect future growth, and create "wounds" in a tree's system of defense. Cuts and other wounds allow access for disease and infestation. Improperly removing leaves, needles, and other foliage reduces a tree's overall photosynthetic capacity which is the process of how trees get the nutrients requires for growth and development.

There are many objectives to keep in mind when you are thinking about pruning a tree and that is why it is best to consult a professional who can help make sure your tree continues to thrive, grow, and develop. A few objectives you may consult the professional about are reducing potential for tree or branch failure, providing clearance under the tree, reducing shade and wind resistance, maintaining health, influencing flow or fruit production, and improving the view or aesthetics.

7 Types of Pruning

Different pruning techniques are used to achieve different objectives.

1) Crown Cleaning

This is the process of selectively removing dead, diseased, broken or weakly attached branches from the crown of the tree. It helps to correct minor growth problems in an effort to prevent bigger issues later.

2) Crown Thinning

Crown thinning involves crown cleaning in addition to selectively removing branches. It is important to not over thin, as it can have adverse effects. Always contact a professional to make sure you are making the best choice for your tree.

Crown thinning:

  • promotes light penetration and air movement through the crown, and improves structure

  • increases light which improves light stimulation and increased air flow to help improve the health of the tree

  • reduces the wind-sail effect and relieves weight of large clumps of foliage and heavy limbs

  • retains the tree’s natural shape and structure

3) Crown Raising

Removal of the lower limbs of a tree to a desired height and is important to provide clearance for buildings, signs, vehicles, pedestrians and line of sight.

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4) Crown Reduction

Reducing the overall size of a tree using specific techniques and is important to preserve structural integrity and natural form.

5) Crown Restoration

This is used a tree that has been previously topped, has vigorously sprouted or has

sustained significant storm damage. Crown restoration uses specific methods and techniques to encourage ideal growth. This usually requires several pruning over a number of years.

6) Utility Pruning

Utility pruning involves the removal of branches or stems to prevent the loss of service, prevent equipment damage, and provide access for workers. Always contact a professional for this type of pruning as it is a highly specialized type of arborculture with much added risk.

7) Tree Topping

This pruning technique used to reduce the tree size that involves cutting the tree back to a predetermined crown limit. Tree topping is not recommended in most cases as it can lead to branch dieback, decay, and unstable sprout production from the cut ends.

Why Not to “Top”

  1. Starvation - upsets the crown to root ratio and cuts off a tree’s ability to make food and get nutrients

  2. Shock - a tree’s crown protects it from the sun's rays and new exposure can damage the remainder of the tree

  3. Insects and Disease - Topping cuts create wounds that are vulnerable to insects and fungal decay

  4. Weak Limbs - weight from new sprouts or rotted wood is more weakly attached

  5. Rapid New Growth - new sprouts are far more numerous than normal growth and elongate rapidly to create a much denser crown

  6. Tree Death - some trees are more tolerant to topping, but for many, the reduced foliage will lead to tree death

  7. Appearance - topping disfigures a tree and it never regains it’s natural appearance

  8. Cost - Cost may be cheaper in the short run but hidden costs include decreased property value, expense of removal/replacement in the event of tree death, loss of neighboring trees and shrubs, increased liability of weakened branches and increased maintenance costs


Need help figuring out what service is best for you? Looking to utilize a professional crew to get the job done safely and efficiently? Get an estimate and your questions answered, fast.


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