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Structural Pruning

Pruning can be the best and the worst thing done for your trees. When done properly it can increase the health, longevity, safety, function and beauty, but when done improperly it can have the opposite effect. Trees produce there own food through photosynthesis, a process that takes place in green tissue of plants in the presence of sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water. Over pruning or thinning removes green leaves, a major source for food production. Trees also do not heal! Healing is the process where damaged cells are repaired or replaced. Once damage has occurred or a limb has been removed it can not be corrected or replaced.

At ARBORSCAPES we are very conscientious about trees and the impacts that our actions will have on them. We do not climb trees with “spurs” or “spikes” when pruning, instead we set climbing lines. We make educated decisions on why, when, and how to prune. We follow the ANSI A300 standards that dictate guidelines to follow. And every job is supervised by a certified arborist. We treat your trees as if they were our own.

Pruning for structure

Structural pruning is a type of pruning best done on immature to medium aged trees. It is also used when trees have been improperly pruned or damaged. This is done by subordinating or removing co dominant stems, removing limbs to increase proper spacing of lateral or scaffold limbs, reduce or remove rubbing limbs, and provide desirable crown configuration.

Crown cleaning

Crown cleaning is the selective removal of dead, diseased, detached, and broken branches. This type of pruning is done to reduce the risk of branches falling from the tree and reduce the movement of decay, insects, and diseases from dead or dying branches into the rest of the tree. It can be performed on trees of any age but is most common on medium-aged and mature trees. Cleaning is the preferred pruning type for mature trees because it does not remove live branches unnecessarily.


Thinning is the SELECTIVE removal of small live branches to reduce crown density. Because the majority of small branches are at the outside edge of the canopy, thinning is focused in that area. Proper thinning retains crown shape and should provide an even distribution of foliage throughout the crown. Thinning increases sunlight penetration and air movement through the crown. Increased light and air stimulate and maintain interior foliage, which can encourage taper on scaffold branches. Over thinning can have a detrimental effect and can increase the likely hood of limb or tree failure. No more than 25 percent of the canopy should ever be removed in one growing season and that number should decrease depending on the age, health, and species of the tree.


Elevating the canopy of the tree is done to increase views, sunlight, or for safety. This does not always mean removing the limb at the trunk. Often times tip weight can be removed or smaller limbs growing downwards along a main limb. Crown elevation should never exceed one third of the tree height, doing so can jeopardize the health and structural stability of the tree.

Size and shape reduction

Reduction is the SELECTIVE removal of branches and stems to decrease the height and/or spread of a tree or shrub. This type of pruning is done to minimize the risk of failure, to reduce height or spread, for utility line clearance, to clear vegetation from buildings or other structures, or to improve the appearance of the plant. Portions of the crown, such as individual limbs, can be reduced to balance the canopy, provide clearance, or reduce likelihood of breakage on limbs with defects. Crown reduction is not “topping” or indiscriminate cutting. Not all trees or plants can be reduced and sometimes removal is necessary or recommended.

Restoration pruning

Restoration pruning is the selective removal of branches, sprouts, and stubs from trees and shrubs that have been topped, severely headed, vandalized, over pruned, or storm damaged.

Weight reduction

Weight reduction pruning is done to reduce the likelihood of limb or trunk failure. Weight reduction is achieved by making proper pruning cuts at the ends of the limbs. Often times a little bit will go a long way because you are also reducing the leverage.

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