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Different types of pruning

Updated: Mar 16

There are many types of pruning methods that are aimed to accomplish certain goals.

  • Formative pruning: In my opinion, this is one of the most useful and often necessary forms of pruning. This type of pruning is done to eliminate problematic structure and to provide the tree with a good frame to grow from and into. It is best done when the tree is young as it means the tree has the greatest ability to recover & benefit from the pruning.

  • Deadwooding: This is done primarily for hazard reduction but can also greatly increase the aesthetic/amenity value of the tree. It’s done by removing the dead branches within the canopy down to a certain branch diameter. Depending on the tree species the degree to which you deadwood will vary.

  • Crown thinning: This is done in order to let more light reach the ground and potentially help ease wind damage (depending on the tree species), this is done by selectively removing certain branches.

  • Crown reduction: This is done to shrink the tree canopy in a little bit towards the centre. This is done by pruning back to suitable existing branches that will ideally grow in the direction and shape we are wanting.

  • Clearance pruning: Pruning for clearance is done if a tree is growing too close to or causing damage to assets (houses, service wires, water tanks etc.). It can also be done to isolate a tree in order to possum guard the tree and let it recover.

  • Pollarding: This is an annual/biannual approach to keep certain trees small and dense either for aesthetics, space requirements, mulch or wood production. This approach is done by initially cutting to a selected point and then cutting back all the regrowth each year or two. This will eventually form a large knobbly mass called a ‘Pollard head’.

  • Pruning for fruits and/or flowers: By selectively pruning and training certain branches we can shape and encourage structure suitable for increased yield, ease of access and decreased likelihood of disease.

NOTE: Topping your trees 99% of the time a very bad idea. The type of regrowth the tree produces will be much weaker and more likely to snap off, as well as reaching back to previous heights and potentially higher in the coming few years. This will VERY rarely provide any good long term solutions. When we deal with trees we have to think in the long term. Please use our ‘Contact us’ page for a free consultation to discuss alternative options for your tree.

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