Crown thinning is the term used for the removal of the lower branches of the tree. This technique lifts the canopy or crown of the tree and is one of the most popular types of tree surgery. It is an important part of maintaining a healthy tree and may be carried out for a number of reasons.
Light It creates a higher canopy increasing light to the ground and plants or shrubs in the area closer to the tree.
Access It makes it easier to get around the tree without low hanging branches in the way.
Safety To keep any branches away from passing traffic on roads and driveways to create the clearance needed for traffic or pedestrians.
Buildings To keep the branches away from any houses or buildings they are growing close to.
Visual It opens up the view that was blocked by the lower branches enhancing the area or property as well as increasing light to your home or the buildings adjacent.
Health of the tree It can strengthen the trunk and reinvigorate the higher branches and less healthy areas of the tree.
Illustration courtesy of the European Aboricultural Council.
What does crown lifting involve?
Crown lifting is one of the most popular types of pruning and involves the removal of the lower branches. For most trees, half the foliage should be in the lower two-thirds of the tree.
This means that it is important not to remove all of the major branches on the lower structure. Keeping a number of the smaller branches will protect the tree from exposure until the tree has had time to heal and adjust to its new shape.
Most pruning is carried out during the winter months when they are dormant but it’s always best to check the time of year to undertake tree pruning.
With evergreens, winter is a good time to carry out a crown lifting as the sap won’t have risen so weeping and bleeding are kept at a minimum. For some other trees such as Birch or Prunus, crown lifting is best carried out in the late summer months when the tree is in full foliage and the limbs have dropped to their lowest level. If larger branches need to be removed they have a little more time to heal before the onset of winter when the rate of healing is much slower.
Over pruning can severely impact a tree’s health. To maintain a healthy tree and to reduce the risk of causing stress to the tree, it is important to hire a qualified arborist to carry out this type of work.
A professional tree care specialist should be able to advise you the best method of pruning for the tree and recommend an alternative service if crown lifting is not appropriate.
How we can help
We make an initial assessment to work out how much lifting is required and if that will be a safe amount for your tree to cope with, without impacting its health. It may only need a simple trim of a few branches or the complete removal of a selection of the lower layers.
The lowest branches are removed first, removing any heavy branches in stages. This helps to minimise the stress on the tree whilst reducing tearing and damage. Care will be taken not to remove too many lower limbs at a time so as not to initiate decay.
A return visit the following year to remove the remaining smaller branches will complete the process if required.
We have extensive experience of this and many other types of pruning of trees in different locations – from smaller garden trees to larger trees in parks or public spaces, providing we have the relevant permission to do so. We will always make an assessment of the tree taking into account the situation and surroundings, identifying any risks and hazards.
With access to all the necessary specialist equipment, we work in accordance with the latest health and safety guidelines and operate in a safe, efficient and considerate manner.
We are tidy chaps and will always leave the area clear removing the chippings, twigs and fallen leaves, although wood can be left if requested.
NPTC, IRATA & more
£5m Public Liability Insurance
All waste recycled