Types of tree trimming and pruning:

Raising the canopy

This type of tree trimming is where only the lower limbs on a tree are removed. This is the most popular type of pruning.

Crown or Canopy Cleaning

This type of tree trimming is removing only unhealthy branches. This is part of routine tree maintenance, all dead and diseased limbs are removed, limbs to close together or with attachment point to close together are removed.

Crown or Canopy Thinning

In crown thinning the first step is to perform crown cleaning and then go on to remove more branches with a focus on increasing aesthetics, improving light penetration, improving air flow, improving visibility or a combination of the above. It is not recommended to remove more than 25% of the trees foliage producing limbs in one year.

Crown or Canopy Reduction

Canopy reduction occurs where a tree has outgrown its environment and cannot continue to grow upward. This is most often due to interference with overhead utility lines and is best done as part of a maintenance program where a small portion is removed each year. (always less than 25%).

Tipping or Topping

Topping is like canopy reduction except the reduction is often removal of near 100% of the foliage producing limbs. Tipping or topping is the last resource before complete tree removal. Not all trees can withstand this type of pruning. Here in Georgia, there is one type of tree that does respond well to topping and it is our most requested tree to prune…The Bradford Pear. Bradford pear trees require a lot of pruning. This site has info on how to prune and maintain young Bradford pear trees. Bradford pear trees grow rapidly with a thick canopy to a height up to 50’ with a spread up to 35’. People turn to a professional tree service when their Bradford pear has gotten out of control. If you have a Bradford pear that is 35’ tall we can get it down to around 28’ or so with a crown reduction and canopy thinning. This canopy thinning will help prevent the tree from splitting in a wind storm but it does not guarantee it. When people find out this more selective pruning approach can only reduce the canopy by 20-25% and costs significantly more than topping the Bradford pear or even complete tree removal they usually ask us to top the Bradford pear. After a little hand waiving and coaching about the repercussions of tree topping we agree to do it because we recognize our customer is our boss. Trees that have been tipped or topped can benefit from a canopy thinning a few years after being topped due to the prolific growth of sprouts and suckers.

When to prune:

The best time to prune most trees is late winter or early. Basically after winter’s worst but before they put on new growth, this is critical because if you wait until ornamental trees break dormancy and begin to bud before you prune them you will be cutting off some of this years blooms. For that reason many people recommend pruning ornamental trees immediately after they bloom. However, pruning outside the recommended time frame increases sap loss and the risk of infection.

Making correct pruning cuts

There are two things to remember when trimming larger limbs that require using a saw instead of a lopper. The first is where to cut and the second is how to cut. Where to cut involves not leaving a nub and not flush cutting into the branch collar. Where the branch joins the tree in most types of tree there will be a noticeable collar.