Trees offer a huge range of benefits to the ecosystem, from providing habitat, protection and food for wildlife to filtering urban pollutants and fine particulates making the air cleaner to breath

Tree pruning can have a variety of benefits including adapting the shape of a tree to its environment, improving th structure of the crown by removing crossing or damaged branches, shortening or removing low growth which might otherwise impede access around the tree (Crown lifting), and cutting back from nearby features such as windows, signs and lamps.

tree pruning options

Dead wooding

Trees can develop dead wood for a variety of reasons. It can be due to the branches being surplus to the requirements of the tree, pests and disease or shading issues. A tree with dead wood doesn’t necessarily mean the tree is in decline but it can pose a threat to people or objects below.
Deadwood has benefits for wildlife and can in some cases be safely managed, stabilised where retention is the preferred option. Deadwood retention is not appropriate for all species of trees, and may not be suitable in every situation. Removal of deadwood is of particular concern in urban areas where there are high volumes of pedestrian traffic or high value items such as cars parked below.

Formative pruning

This practice is usually performed on young trees with the aim of producing a mature tree with no major structural defects, such as weak forks, and promoting a healthy crown structure. These principles can also be applied to some extent on older trees. Carfeul selective pruning can help alleviate concerns about poor crown structure and help prolong the useful lifespan of your tree.


Pollarding is the process of removing all secondary branches leaving the larger scaffold limbs or in some cases just the main stem. The operation is repeated every few years to manage the tree at the smaller size. This method is particularly favoured in urban environments where space is limited but the need for mature trees is both necessary and desirable. Not all species are suited to pollarding. Pollarded trees also tend to live longer as they are maintained in a partially juvenile state, and use energy to produce new growth rather than increase the size and girth of the trunk.

Crown thinning

Crown thinning is the process of selectively removing branches evenly to allow more light and air penetration through the crown. This can have the temporary effect of reducing the shading caused by a tree with a very dense crown structure, where other pruning options are not considered appropriate.

Crown Reduction and reshaping

This operation involves the reduction of the height and spread of the tree proportionally, while retaining the crown structure, effectively making the crown smaller. This can be used to:
  1. manage a tree growing in a limited physical space, reduce wind loading on a tree where biomechanical integrity is a concern
  2. help manage the water uptake of a tree (when repeated on a regular cycle)
  3. rejuvenate older trees (retrenchment pruning/reduction) by developing a smaller crown
It should be noted that not all tree species are suited to crown reduction works, and the physiological condition of an individual tree is also essential to consider before undertaking crown reduction work. Crown reduction is very often a cyclical operation as healthy trees will react by producing reaction growth to replace the lost branches. Cyclical reduction involves repeated removal of regrowth, back to the original reduction point, and timing of these operations will vary between tree species and locations. Reshaping the crown may involve the reduction in length of certain branches or sections of the crown only, e.g. to cut back from a building or structure, or to suit a particular location or tree.