Crown reduction and lifting of the crown.
Climbing re-polluting of a Paulownia tomentosa

Types of pruning for trees: crown reduction or lifting of the crown

Welcome to our page about the different types of tree pruning. The three most common types of pruning include crown reduction. Then highlight crown and the safety pruning. You will also find information about top trees. We don't like top trees, because this is very detrimental to trees, and refuse this type of work if there is no good reason for it. Top trees therefore only happens if there is no other solution for the tree.

In addition to information about the different types of tree pruning, we are happy to provide additional background information.

En when (at what time) you will prune trees, is also very important of course.



Types of pruning trees


There are many different types of pruning. It is the knowledge of your arborist to know what type of pruning your tree needs to achieve the desired final appearance and keep your tree healthy:

  • accompaniment pruning
  • sheathing pruning
  • highlight crown
  • taking crown or crown reduction
  • Keep the rootstock free of branches
  • temporary crown
  • maintenance pruning
  • safety pruning
  • problem branches (torn, dead, affected branches, elbow branches, branches that are too thick or vigorous, rubbing and rubbing branches)
  • yield pruning of fruit trees

Below we will provide more information about each type of tree pruning. And why we choose a certain type of pruning in which situation.



TIP for pruning trees:

Having an professional arborist prunes trees with a handsaw, not with a chainsaw. Always ask your arborist what tools he will use for the pruning work. With this simple question you will know a lot.




Prune trees by removing the crown


When removing the crown, one or more side branches on the outside of the permanent crown are shortened to a living side branch. This must take over the task of the pruned branch and must therefore have a diameter that is at least 1/3 of the diameter of the pruning wound. Avoid upward-facing wounds. The crown shape and size of the tree remain virtually unchanged when illuminated.

Highlighting increases the transparency of the crown. The mechanical load on the pruned branches is reduced. Because more light reaches the inner crown, more leaves are formed there and therefore less dead wood.

When the crown is lifted, the pruned branches become shorter and over time also thicker and they are also subject to less stress. So they sag less and the risk of tearing is smaller.

A maximum of 20% of the leaf volume is removed. Due to the spreading of the pruning over many thin branches, the number of pruning wounds is usually large and removing them is a very labor-intensive job.

Below you can see the chronological photos of the highlighting and crown reduction of an affected and weakened solitary beech in a park garden in Heist-op-den-Berg. Highlighting the crown and crown reduction (read more after the photos) was necessary to reduce the mechanical forces.

Pruning trees crown reduction and removing beech crown

Pruning trees crown reduction and removing beech crown

Pruning trees crown reduction and removing beech crown



Advantages of pruning by highlighting


When removing the crown, the pruned branches are a maximum of 5 to 10 cm thick, depending on the tree species. For example, living sapwood is usually only sawn when removing the crown, which improves sealing and reduces the risk of infection and rot.

By lighting it is also possible to slightly reduce the crown size of an adult tree, while still maintaining a natural crown shape. This is certainly the case with some species that form a natural undercrown when older, such as elms, plane trees and the nettle tree (Celtis spp.).

To have a lasting effect, this must be repeated regularly. Permanently 'reducing' trees in one pruning is impossible. Too much pruning at once can lead to it felling the tree after several years.



Pruning trees: crown reduction or taking the crown


With a crown reduction, the crown is literally reduced. But only to a limited extent. Taking up the crown is done by shortening all side branches. Shortening is done by one third or one quarter to a living side branch.

The crown shape does not change in shape, but it does change in size. As a result, the smaller crown size experiences lower mechanical loads or smaller forces (moment forces).

Taking the tree crown or crown reduction is an ultimate solution to safely preserve a tree with reduced stability or a weakened trunk. In this way, valuable trees can be saved from being felled. Taking is an exceptional measure and is therefore not part of normal according to Harmonic Park and Green Management tree management.

During ingestion or crown reduction, a large part of the leaf volume disappears. To know that most of the leaves of a deciduous tree are located at the ends of the branches. And it is precisely this part of the branches that will be removed during a crown reduction. Taking in is therefore best done during the winter rest, to allow the tree to sprout again from dormant buds or adventitious buds. Branches from dormant buds are only weakly attached and very susceptible to breakage.



The crown reduction requires more follow-up, but also has advantages


Taking trees only takes place when trees are in good condition. They cannot be saved by taking in declining trees.

A tree whose crown has been taken will need to be monitored closely. If the crown is to be permanently limited by crown reduction, the tree must be pruned again every 3 to 5 years. If the tree produces enough repair tissue to reduce the risk, the crown can slowly regrow. The new shoots must be monitored so that they develop sufficiently strong growth.

By shortening one branch, the mechanical load on the branch attachment and the trunk can be reduced. Moreover, this inhibits its growth because it is placed in the shade. Such underlying pruning can be a way to make a branch at risk safer. For example, sticky branches, suckers, elbow branches, rubbing branches or heavy horizontal branches.



The safety pruning of a tree


By safety pruning we mean the work in the crown that is necessary to eliminate possible problems with both the tree and the environment.
Removing dead wood, dead or dead branches, for example. This will greatly reduce the risk of injuring pedestrians or cyclists or damaging cars in a parking lot due to falling wood.
For example, when shortening a codominant top, the tree is protected. The codominant top or branch is much less likely to tear out. Tearing out a heavy codominant top leads to a large laceration wound that often becomes seriously infected, which reduces the life expectancy of the tree. This problem can be prevented by pruning this codominant top or branch in a timely manner.



Topping trees is very bad


This is something we only wish to deal with if there is no other option for the tree. And all other options have been exhausted.

It's very bad for a tree. For many tree species this means the end of the tree. This one often dies from its serious injury, due to the “topping”.



What is topping trees. And this is certainly not pruning!


Topping means sawing away a very large crown part at the top of the tree, by making a very large saw wound in the trunk or heavy main branch. The tree is literally shortened by many meters from the top.

When topping, such a large pruning wound is made in the trunk that it can never close in time. A parasitic fungal infection will eventually undermine the tree. Not only the large pruning wound, but also the enormous weakening of the tree, because a very large part of its leaf mass, which provides the energy for daily maintenance, has been sawn away.

Topping trees often leads to... sheets years later. However, sometimes there is no other option. Read more about topping trees below.



Only top trees if there is no other option


Only when a tree can no longer handle the great mechanical load of its height can topping be an option. For example, due to weakening due to a parasitic fungal infection.

Topping is then a possible solution to preserve the tree for longer. And that then contributes to ecologically valuable management.

Pruning a tree is certainly not the same as topping a tree!

If we top a tree, this will be very carefully considered.



Pruning trees according to the tree itself


When pruning trees or other pruning work, we always act based on the well-being of the tree and its environment.

Every tree is in a different phase of life and has a different one condition and belongs to a specific tree species. That is why we take many factors into account when pruning trees:

  • Is the tree sufficiently vital to be pruned (we will tell you first advice en inspect the trees first)?
  • Can the tree be a crown reduction On?
  • Can we prune this tree species at this time of year?
  • How are we going to prune this tree and what does the customer want?
  • Are we allowed to saw off a large branch while pruning the tree and when or how do we do this?
  • Are there environmental factors that we should take into account?
  • What final image do you want as a customer?
  • What is the long-term outcome?
  • How often will the tree have to be pruned again in the coming years due to the current pruning?
  • ...



Pruning according to people and the tree


However, since the coexistence of people and trees must be coordinated as best as possible for both parties, it is often necessary to prune a tree.

Especially in urbanized areas and in the vicinity of homes and buildings.

Now is the time to prune trees highlighting the crown, an crown reduction or a safety pruning, it is best done in a professional manner. Taking into account the time at which a particular species may be pruned. What end result and final image one wishes to achieve. The way a branch is sawed off. The diameter of the branches that are cut. The current vitality and possible loss of condition of the tree. And much more.



The intended result of pruning trees is always different


In urbanized areas there is a great desire for trees and greenery. The presence of trees causes inconvenience to traffic. Keeping the rootstock free of branches is a reason for pruning street trees and avenue trees.

When pruning fruit trees, the yield is important. Here, no topiary is done, but pruning is done according to the yield.

If side branches have become too large and heavy, it is best to prune them to prevent tearing of these codominant branches. A large laceration will infect the tree and possibly result in loss of the tree. This is also a reason to prune. It's more common than you might think. Big old trees often enter their final phase in this way. By shortening this codominant branch in a timely manner, tearing and infection are prevented and thus also prevented from entering the final phase.



Pruning trees causes injuries; how to prevent infections and damage?


When a tree is pruned, injuries are always caused. The tree must overcome these injuries by sealing off the wounds. And in this way keep infections and infections out.

The tree will also try to cover the wounds by wound overgrowth (callus formation). The sealing and the wound overgrowth cost the tree extra energy. Since part of the energy reserves that the tree must use for this are also contained in the pruned branches, you can imagine that in many cases it is not a good idea to prune a tree.

When pruning is done, for whatever reason, it is very important that the branches are pruned in the right place, in the right way and at the right time (for the species). In other words, when you prune the tree. The method of disinfecting pruning tools is also very important to prevent infections or damage.

Pruning trees requires a lot of professional knowledge.



Best pruning time for the trees themselves


This obviously depends on the type of pruning you apply to the tree.

But the best pruning time for pruning most deciduous trees and conifers is late spring or summer.

The sealing of the pruning wounds is then much more active, with much less chance of infections or disorders afterwards.

It is not recommended to prune during leaf formation (early spring) or during leaf fall (autumn). The tree then calls on his energy reserves, which he then has less available to do wound sealing.

There are many misunderstandings surrounding the pruning time, mainly due to when there is time available in the agendas (usually the autumn-winter period when there is less work for green services).

Other things that determine the pruning time are: the type of pruning, sensitivity to bleeding of the tree species, flowering time (for ornamental trees, for example), weather conditions and temperature (freezing weather?) and the intended purpose of the pruning.

The lifting out the crown often happens best in the summer period. The tree then has higher energy reserves and can still achieve some active isolation for the winter.

De crown reduction on the other hand, it is best carried out in the winter period. More dormant buttons can then be activated.

You only prune trees at the right time. This way you prevent problems that often only manifest themselves years later. Often 10, 20 or 30 years later.

weeping willow pruning




In which regions do we work to prune trees?


In the following regions you can call on b-Tree Tree Care for tree pruning. Namely the regions of Antwerp, Brussels, Aarschot, Leuven and Turnhout.
We are very active in the following municipalities: Putte, Beerzel, Peulis, Grasheide, Heist-op-den-Berg, Keerbergen, Bonheiden and Rijmenam.


Contact us today with your question.



Contact us today for an initial consultation or visit without obligation


If you are looking for one professional arborist or someone who can prune trees for you like the best, then b-Tree Tree Care is ready to help you.

And you have come to the right place. Especially in the long term.

Please contact us today to discuss your needs, schedule an assessment or get more information about how we prune trees and what type of pruning is required. Our dedicated team is ready to help you preserve your valuable trees and landscape heritage.

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