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Considering your options...

This page is dedicated to a discussion on what options there are when pruning and caring for your trees.

It should be pointed out that pruning a tree is essentially a wounding process and exposes this living organism to possible infection from a variety of pathogens.

To bear this fact in mind when considering having work carried out to your tree is important, so that whoever carries out the work does not inflict irreversible damage (be it through excessively heavy, or badly timed, pruning).

Below, you will find brief descriptions of the various operations that can be carried out on your tree, along with some reasons why these practices may suit your needs.

If you would like to read a more in-depth report on Arboricultural Operations, contact Jamie on


This operation involves the removal of dead, dying, and diseased wood as well as broken or torn branches which present a potential hazard to people or property.

Dead-wooding is often carried out simultaneously with other activities that require the climber to move throughout the whole canopy (such as Crown Thinning or Crown Reductions).

If there is little danger of falling dead wood causing harm to life or property (be it your children playing in the garden, your chickens and their coupe, or your car parked on the drive) then it should be left as nature intended. Ultimately, dead wood returns to the soil and is recycled, returning as nutrients in various forms – human intervention is an unnecessary and uninvited addition to the cycle, and should only occur when deemed appropriate – common sense prevails!

Crown Lifting

This involves the pruning or removal of limbs at the base of the canopy in order to raise the height of the lower branching.

This is often carried out on roadside trees to allow clearance for the safe passing of larger vehicles, but similarly may be beneficial in allowing you to walk through your garden without ducking and diving!

Crown lifting can also aid light levels in your home, office, or garden, especially in late summer/autumn when the sun is lower in the sky.

Often, clear line of sight for CCTV cameras can be obstructed by low branching, and thus crown lifting may also aid in resolving this.

Excessive lifting of the crown, as well as being aesthetically displeasing, can have a detrimental effect on the mechanical stability of the tree. Essentially, the centre of gravity is raised and can (in certain circumstances) result in instability (especially in high winds).

Equally, uneven crown lifting (more on one side than the other) can have similar destabilising effects.

Crown Reduction

This can be an overall reduction of the canopy, or concentrated on the height or width (spread) of the crown. It may also involve the reduction, in length, of an over-extended limb which may be posing a risk to person or property.

More often than not, light is the reason that many people ask for their tree to be reduced. Clearly, to reduce the size of a trees’ canopy will allow more light through. However, as with many solutions to a “problem”, it is not as clear cut as this.

Be cautious of any over zealous tree surgeon who simply suggests a heavy reduction of your tree. Whether a vast oak, or delicate Japanese maple, anything more than a 30% reduction (of the crown) should be treated as unnecessary, and other options should be explored.

A combination of a light reduction with a thinning of the trees’ crown can have a much more positive effect on light penetration (at all times of day, and year), as well as limiting the often unsightly appearance of an excessively reduced tree.

Crown Thinning and Cleaning

This involves the removal of a percentage of foliage/branches within the canopy of a tree. Rubbing and crossing branches which may cause future problems can be removed, and duplicate branches (a number of branches occupying the same space) can be selectively removed (depending on the work specification).

As with every other operation, crown thinning can also be done to excess, with obvious detrimental effects to the tree. This includes the exposure of individual limbs to a greater level of wind stress to which they may be not be accustomed.

“Lions tailing” refers to the excessive thinning of the internal canopy, whilst maintaining a dense coverage at the extremities. This is NOT advocated by those who understand the mechanical stresses exerted on trees, and therefore the thinning of a canopy should be carried out along the entire length of the branch.

As mentioned above, the thinning of a trees crown can dramatically increase the amount of light that permeates through, but equally can maintain an element of dappled shade. The degree to which a tree is thinned can be adjusted accordingly to meet specific requirements (but no more than 30% at one time).

Jamie Foster
Call: 07912 313521