Tree Pruning – extending the life of your trees with a pruning program


Tree pruning is part of the arboreal science of bringing a tree back to health or of increasing its fruit-bearing qualities.

For example, the right cuts at the right time of the year can be directed so as to improve airflow through a tree’s limbs. In this way, fungal, and insect infestation can be reduced. Pruning can also encourage new growth further enhancing the appearance and health of a tree.

Venn Diagram comparing tree trimming with tree pruning

Although there is some obvious overlap, tree trimming is more of a reactive course of action in response to some form of hazard caused by a tree. For example, you would trim a tree to remove a low-hanging branch that was obstructing a road or path whereas you would prune a tree to improve its health and reduce its likelihood of becoming a problem in the future.

Don’t worry, we won’t get hung up on semantics, and the two terms are often used interchangeably in any case.

When is the best time of the year to prune a tree?

A good time would be when the tree is dormant and insect activity is low. This means the late autumn months in USA i.e. after deciduous trees have shed their leaves for the year. A benefit of this timing is that you or an arborist from Tree Top Pros is better placed to see dead, decaying, crossing branches and those competing with the main leader branch because these are become a priority for pruning attention.

How to prune tree branches

For a small tree where you don’t need a ladder or you don’t need to climb up, there are three types of pruning cut for non-fruit bearing trees. These are canopy-thinning, canopy-lifting and crown-reduction.

1. Canopy Thinning is where you ‘clean’ the canopy of:

  • dead branches
  • dying branches as its important to remove limbs affected by fungal growth or insect infestation – the energy expended by the tree in trying to repair and heal such branches can usefully be directed to other areas of the tree by removal
  • crossing branches where they are interfering with each other’s growth and/or rubbing against each other

2. Canopy Lifting – we often get asked how we can improve areas of grass that appear to be thinning beneath trees. Usually, this can be done by canopy thinning alone to let in more light to the ground below. Over-pruning can be a danger here when the plants below are prioritized over the health of the tree. This is why we never remove more than a quarter of a tree’s canopy in any one year. It’s also important not to prune more than one third of a tree’s total height without killing it.

3. Crown Reduction – The main purpose for this type of pruning is to shape a tree for aesthetic reasons. Bear in mind, though that a tree cannot be pruned like a shrub. They are taller and great care must be taken not to introduce air into a tree’s vascular system as this will compromise its ability to provide essential sap for the upper branches, buds and leaves.

As you can begin to see, pruning trees is a science and there are clear do’s and don’ts if you are not to harm a tree’s short and long term health. These ‘rules’ can change from tree species to tree species so take the utmost care with your tree’s

Tree pruning cost

If you are in any doubt, call to talk to one of our certified arborists to come and look at your trees and explain details of our tree pruning service. We’ll give you a FREE estimate before any work commences.

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