Regardless of the various names used for types of pruning, there are
only two basic cuts: One cuts back to an intermediate point, called heading back cut, and the other cuts back to some point of origin, called thinning out cut.
Removing a portion of a growing stem down to a set of desirable buds
or side-branching stems (lateral limb). This is commonly performed in well trained
plants for a variety of reasons, for example to stimulate growth of
flowers, fruit or branches, as a preventative measure to wind and snow
damage on long stems and branches, and finally to encourage growth of
the stems in a desirable direction. Also commonly known as heading-back.
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Incorrectly called topping
Reduces the size/height of a tree by 10 to 30% to acceptable levels. This type of pruning works well
on ornamentals to achieve a certain desired aesthetic effect. Compared to topping, reduction helps maintain the form and structural integrity of the tree.
This is the best solution where the tree's crown is simply too large, but it
is important to retain a natural tree 'shape'. We reduce the height and spread
of the crown by pruning each and every
branch back to a suitable union, applying 'Drop-Crotch' technique, to create
a balanced tree shape and outline. The amount by which we reduce the tree is
best described as a percentage (for example, "reduce the crown by 20%").
Many consumers refer this method as Tree 'topping' which is a misnomer - see 'A Word on Topping
' to understand the difference.
The selective removal of branches to increase light penetration and
air movement through the crown. Includes crown cleaning and removing
unnecessary crossing or competing branches. This allows for more air and
light to pass through the tree and reduces pressure on the plant.
is often the best solution where a tree has grown too dense and
vigorous for a garden or site. We reduce the overall
density of the crown by removing dead and crossing branches as well as
secondary branches. This leaves the main branch structure
of the tree intact and minimizes the amount of vigorous 'regrowth' seen
after pruning. Thinning reduces the likelihood of a
tree blowing over in strong winds.
The tree retains its natural shape, yet
allows far more light through the canopy and onto the ground. We can
thin the whole tree crown or just specific areas.
Typically performed on
landscape trees, Crown Cleaning primary
focus is the selective removal of branches from the crown of a tree
that are dead (deadwooding), dying, hazardous, diseased, or and to also correct structural problems and crowding;
as well as sucker growth from within the tree's canopy.
Crown cleaning will promote better scaffold limb structure,
and allow for better movement of air through the tree's canopy. Better
air flow means less wind resistance, thus reducing the chances of limb
breakage during strong weather systems. Crown
cleaning will also restore the tree's natural beauty and grace.
This reduces hazards, decreases
property damage and helps to promote healthy tissue. Regular pruning can
eliminate these small problems before they become big ones.
Also refereed to as 'Lifting'.
Removes the lower branches of the tree
in order to provide clearance
for buildings, vehicles, pedestrians, and vistas. It's also performed to increase visibility, reduce hazards near walkways and provide
clearance to facilitate lawn-mowing. Removing the lower branches from a tree Branches scratching
against a roof or wall can cause extensive
Crown lifting increases the clearance of the lower branches of a tree, perhaps
to increase the amount of light and space in a garden, or to provide a clear
way for a footpath or building. The lower branches are usually completely removed.
Work is normally specified
in terms of the required distance from the ground to the lowest branches. For
the crown to 8 feet above the ground".
Relates to a specific limb or area of limbs interfering or threatening, requiring the cut back pruning of branches away
from a home, utility lines, structure or street - to eliminate damage potential to a
structure or vehicle.
Critical Drop-Crotch pruning is very important in Crown Clearing or die-back of the remaining limb(s) will occur if the cut is not brought back to a intermediate point, called heading back cut, which has sustainable lateral branch.
pruning technique is used when making thinning cuts to remove
interfering or deadwooding and thinning out new shoots lightly.
Designed to keep the natural look of the tree, drop-crotch pruning
thins and is applied to all cut-back applications - it is the only
acceptable procedure to use and accepted by tree owners. The branches
back to a natural crotch or branch rather than cut back to a stub. This
means existing branches will act as leaders. It is always preferable to
use this pruning technique in preference to topping a tree.
Drop crotch pruning reduces the length of a limb by cutting it back to a
lateral branch that can assume the missing limbs role in maintaining
apical dominance. The lateral to which a branch or trunk is cut should
be at least one-half the diameter of the cut being made.
If tree is properly pruned, the untrained eye may not even notice the changes - and after all... that's the whole idea is to NOT to loose its natural character while achieving the goal.
> Keeps a natural look
> Maintain health of tree
> Remove deadwood
> Reduces chance of storm damage
We don't recommend tree-topping, as it hurts trees. The crop of
shoots often seen erupting after topping is because the tree has been
stripped of foliage and therefore deprived of food. Topping can cause
decay, and make trees look ugly. It is a high-maintenance practice with
hidden costs, which could cost you far more in the long run than hiring a
Also applies to 'Renovative and Restoration' Pruning
This is a process we use by which a damaged tree, either by nature or severe trimming, is
pruned to regain it natural shape as much as physically possible and trained to resume its natural growth habit. Restoration works to
improve the tree's appearance and structure. The process could take more than one session as it grows and fills out.
- Plants that have been improperly “topped” can have their watersprouts
(small limbs growing vertically from larger limbs) pruned to
re-establish a better branch structure for the tree. If they are not
removed, they will steal energy from the tree.
- Suckers, which grow from the base of the tree or the roots, should also be pruned as soon as they appear before they weaken the tree.
- Trees may develop co-dominant (two equal) leader stems
as well as weakly attached branches from improper pruning or damage.
These should be removed when the trees are young to prevent wounds from
breakage. Rubbing and crossed branches should also be removed as soon as
they are found
- Many factors may damage branches from storms to people, animals or pests. Damaged branches
affect the tree’s appearance, create safety issues, and are breeding
grounds for insect and disease damage and should be removed as soon as
Corrective Pruning helps to reclaim your trees natural
beauty through a combination of many factors. After an inspection
of your tree the restoration can involve corrective pruning,
remediation of poor cultural practices and soil conditions.
Repair of your soil can involve aeration or air spading of compacted
soils as well as vertical mulching.
Trees growing in our Ozark urban and suburban landscapes offer many benefits to the community. However, when a tree or part of a tree breaks, it can cause extensive damage to people and or property. A preventive pruning program is an important tool to minimize the risks of tree defects.
Over the years we have found the most common defects are codominant stems and aggressive low branches that either split from the tree (photo) or result in large pruning cuts upon removal. Problems such as these result in tree stress, reduce the life span of the tree, and place people and property at risk.
Preventive pruning helps to promote good structure, making trees more resistant to storms and other natural forces. Pruning trees significantly reduces trunk movement and damage when exposed to excessive winds. Trees with good structure are characterized by a single dominant leader, strong branch unions without bark inclusions and a balanced canopy. Preventive or structural pruning is a process that can help to reduce damage against the forces of natures violent side.
Dead, weak or diseased trees or branches pose an imminent risk to
people and property in stormy seasons. Violent winds can cause
structural failures in trees which can result in serious damage to
property and injury to people and pets.
Thinning a tree canopy by removing densely growing branches
will reduce the wind resistance and potential breakage of the canopy.
Removing broken or cracked branches would reduce the hazard of falling
debris caused by high winds or ice.
Structural weaknesses such as
narrow branch crotches and rubbing branches should also be considered
during preventative pruning to determine what is most likely to stand up
to the battering of high winds brought on by the increasing forces of spring storms and rigors of our winter weather.
Pruning to Promote Strong Structure
Developing a preventive pruning program requires that your Tree Service Provider be familiar with the techniques of structural pruning. Structural pruning should be practiced for the first 15 to 25 years of a tree’s life. This is the amount of time required to establish strong structure in the canopy and will help to make the tree more resistant to storm damage. In structural pruning, reduction and removal cuts are used to slow the growth of large or rapidly growing branches that compete with the leader. This encourages the one stem you chose as the leader to grow faster.
A preventive pruning program should be designed to create structurally sound trunk and branch architecture that will sustain a tree for a long time. The goal with mature trees is to develop and maintain a sound structure to minimize hazards such as branch failure. This task is easier provided a good structure was established earlier in the tree’s life.
When properly executed, a variety of benefits are derived from pruning. Benefits include reduced risk of branch and stem breakage, better clearance for vehicles and pedestrians, improved health and appearance, and enhanced view. When improperly performed, pruning can harm a tree’s health, stability, and appearance. Several consequences occur when pruning is not performed at all. These consequences include development of low limbs; weak, codominant stems; defects such as included bark; and accumulation of dead branches. Formation of codominant stems and defects such as included bark can lead to increased risk of breakage.
With mature trees it is important to minimize hazards such as branch failure. Failures not only hurt the tree, but can also cause damage to people and property. Live branch removal is less desirable on mature trees, but it is sometimes necessary,
for instance to remove a cracked live branch over a house.
When planning a pruning program: 1. The customer must understand it is essential to first evaluate the tree, and 2. The arborist must understand the customer’s needs in relationship to what the landscape can provide. This will aid in determining which objectives should be accomplished with pruning. Our arborist will then choose the appropriate pruning methods to meet these objectives, and will then enter each tree and make the appropriate pruning cuts for the chosen pruning methods. This arboricultural decision is based on an understanding of branch attachment and tree biology.
Determine Pruning Objectives
No tree should be pruned without first establishing clearly defined objectives. Seven main objectives are described below, along with pruning methods that help meet those objectives. These objectives serve as examples and can be expanded or shortened to meet site conditions and customer expectations. Removing the correct stems and branches to accomplish specified objectives is as important as making correct pruning cuts. Even with proper pruning cuts, if the wrong branches or too many branches are removed, nothing of merit has been accomplished.
a. Reduce Risk of Failure: Reduce failure risk by learning to recognize the structural problems
in trees that can lead to failure.
b. Promote Human Safety: If hazardous structural issues in trees can be recognized prior to a
storm, pruning can help to mitigate their damaging effects.
c. Allow for Safe Passage: Growth can be directed away from an object such as a building,
security light, or power line by reducing or removing limbs on that side of the tree.
d. Increase Sun Penetration to the Ground: A lawn, ground covers, or shrubs can receive
more sunlight when live foliage is removed from the crown of large overstory trees.
e. Maintain Health: Health can be maintained by cleaning the crown, especially in medium-aged
and mature trees. Removing dead, diseased, and rubbing branches in the crown of young
trees also is important.
f. Influence Flower or Fruit Production: Pruning can influence the number and/or size of
flowers or fruit.
g. Improve Aesthetics: A tree can be pruned to improve appearance. Cleaning, reducing,
thinning, and restoring can be used to meet this objective.
Determining Your Objectives
The major objective of preventive structural
pruning is to direct the growth of the tree so that it forms a
sustainable structure. This is accomplished by pruning stems and
branches that are not growing in the correct direction or position.
A little bit of preventative maintenance can go a long way. Lakes
Tree Care technicians are trained to spot potential problems and perform
the necessary pruning techniques before the tree or limb become
dangerous. Give us a try - fill out our 'Request Estimate' form... what have you got to loose?
Aesthetics is a principle of perception that deals with the nature and expression of artistically beautiful or being pleasing in appearance. In the case of your home property; its the all-encompassing balance of your trees as set within your landscape theme.
Homeowners typically spend lots of time caring for their property and aesthetics is a key element in achieving that goal. Be
it a modest ranch house or a mansion on top of a hill, a home’s outside
appearance is often a point of pride for homeowners.
One commonly overlooked element of an aesthetically appealing home is
the role trees can play. Trees can add an element of beauty to a yard
while also playing a practical role, such as shading and cooling the house and also the grass from
intense summer sun and acting as great support for hanging a hammock or bird feeder.
While trees can add appeal to a homeowner’s property, they can also
be an eyesore if not properly pruned. Homeowners hoping to get the most
out of their trees should consider having their trees pruned to bring out the best of natures artistic media palate of the surrounding environment in which your trees function and thrive.
Aesthetic pruning can enhance the natural form and character of your trees and have a positive effect on your entire property.
Trees are pruned for safety, health and aesthetically pleasing shapes, and aesthetic pruning can be done to enhance the natural form of a single tree or the coppice of small trees or a grove of mature shade trees.
Most homeowners and landscapers do not posses the required knowledge or the proper equipment, particularly for aerial work to perform this task.
Staying up on maintenance can be a daunting chore, and
trees in particular, can be the most challenging to
manage. Lakes Tree Service is available and ready to take a lot of this burden off your
Ornamental, both flowering trees and evergreens, plus an introduction to fruiting
specimens. Ornamental flowering trees can produce berries to attract
birds, while evergreens offer year-round foliage.
such as Redbud, Dogwood, Japanese Maple, and similar types are popular
plants and should be pruned on a regular bases before they outgrow their
space and effect the overall theme. In addition, dwarfs, weeping
specimens, apple stock and ornamental trees are valued for the shade they
bring - all are presented in light of what they can do for your
pruning is becoming increasingly popular as more consumers grow apples,
pears, citrus, and other fruit bearing plants in their gardens. Vista
pruning, which is judicious removal of branches to enhance a specific
view from a defined location, is also frequently performed especially
for consumers with homes near mountains or the shore.
There are two principle goals with starting Formative Pruning that are critical to perform at an early age -
Pruning for Long-Term Structure
Formative or structural pruning
is a process conducted over years of the trees' lifespan. Periodical
selective pruning is performed to direct the structural formation of the
tree giving it best chance for a long and healthy life.
trees from the time they leave the nursery provides the greatest benefit to train them to ensure their
performance, landscape potential and safety, and to minimize future maintenance costs.
Unfortunately, this procedure is not a standard practice in nurseries. Thus,
trees may acquire structural defects that can damage property, cause personal injury or cause the tree to become a liability or to fail. Trees with failures
usually need to be removed.
reduces structural defects: co-dominant stems, multiple branches, weak
attachments and overly dense canopies. It reduces hazard potential, thereby giving trees a longer life span. Trained trees will have fewer branches that are well spaced, thus
needing less pruning and providing easier access for arborists as the tree
Improving Root Development:
On currently planted young trees, our strategy for improving root development begins with inspection of the 'root flare'; the juncture of where the first main root meets the trees trunk, and the removal of any soil or mulch above this point. A deep root flare is extremely detrimental and can cause the tree to strangle itself as it grows known as 'stem girdling roots.
A Word on Topping
Topping is perhaps the most harmful
tree pruning practice known, but remains a common practice. Topping is the senseless practice of indiscriminately removing a
majority of a tree's branches. Topping violates most commonly accepted
methods of proper pruning; it is an assault on the health and beauty of
is the heavy removal of branches to large 'stubs', and is often
peddled as 'crown reduction' or 'pollarding' by rogue traders, as it
is the easiest, quickest and cheapest option from their point of view.
Not only are you left with a tree that looks like an ungraceful,
ugly mess during the winter months, you are left with a tree that is
actually more hazardous in the long run.
Five important facts to remember about tree topping:
Problems caused by topping:
- Topping will not make trees safe; it actually creates hazardous trees.
- Topping makes a tree more susceptible to storm damage.
- Topping makes a tree more prone to insect and disease problems.
- Topping is: abuse, vandalism, dangerous, expensive, mutilation, ugly.
- Topping is a waste of money.
Crown reduction is an alternative to topping large trees.
- New growth is weak. At best, the wood of a new limb
that sprouts after a larger limb is cut is more weakly attached than a
limb that develops more normally. If rot exists or develops at the
severed end of the limb, the weight of the sprout makes a bad situation
- Rapid new growth. The goal of topping is
usually to control the height and spread of a tree. Actually, it has the
opposite effect. The resulting sprouts are far more numerous than the
normal new growth, and they elongate so rapidly that the tree returns to
its original height in a very short time.
- Insects and disease. The large stubs of a
topped tree have a difficult time forming a callus. The terminal
location of these cuts, as well as their large diameter, prevent the
tree's chemically-based natural defense system from doing its job. The
stubs are highly vulnerable to insect invasion and the spores of decay
- Sunscald can occur. Bark tissues suddenly exposed to full sun may be burned and develop into disease cankers.
- Starvation. Good pruning practices rarely
remove more than 1/3 of the crown, which does not seriously interfere
with the ability of a tree's leafy crown to manufacture food. Topping
removes so much of the crown that it upsets an older tree's
well-developed crown to root ratio and temporarily cuts off its food
Reduction is accomplished by removing larger branches at the top and/or
side of the tree. Branches are removed above a lateral branch, refered to as drop-crotch pruning, that will
increase in size after cutting. Stubs are not left on this pruning job!
In some cases, it may be best to simply remove the tree.