Covering All Aspects of Landscaping and Tree Work
What is crown thinning?
Typically carried out on hardwood trees, crown thinning is a pruning technique that reduces branch density without altering the size or the shape of the tree.
Crossing, rubbing, and diseased branches are removed, and then the selective removal of stems and branches is applied to allow more light and air through the tree’s canopy or crown.
Professional thinning provides a considered and uniform density of branches throughout the tree. It dictates the correct light and air flow for the tree, the ground it shadows, and the other plants around it, so they can all exist and grow stronger together in their healthiest environment.
Why is crown thinning important?
Light and air flow
As the tree’s branches become too crowded, the leaves and stems begin to compete for the nutrients they need. Thinning ensures a healthy flow of light and the distribution of those resources so that the whole tree gets all the nutrients available.
It also allows sunlight to penetrate the ground around the tree, and any other plants sat in its shadow. They all need daylight and sunshine to thrive, so maintaining an appropriate branch density is essential for all associated plant life.
Protection from wind and storms
A large, dense tree creates a tremendous obstruction in the path of wind. As we’re all far too aware, this doesn’t bode well during heavy storms; fallen branches, damage to cars, roofs, and nearby plant beds, are commonplace.
Thinning a tree’s canopy promotes natural penetration and an easy through path for wind. Creating a fluid way through a tree’s branches results in far less chance of destruction, providing significantly lower risks to safety.
Production of more flowers and fruit
Another additional benefit to a thinned tree is the healthier, increased production of flowers and fruit. With more sunshine reaching more of its branches, they no longer fight for a reduced source of nutrients, promoting the growth of far more flowers and fruit.
When should you carry out crown thinning?
Many types of pruning are typically preferred during the winter months; however, you should always seek the guidance of a professional tree surgeon, as the ideal times of year vary significantly from tree to tree.
For trees that can safely be thinned during those periods where leaves and foliage are plentiful, it can be easier to monitor systematic progress and how much light is passing through at each stage.
How we successfully thin your trees
We understand the best ways to take care of your trees, all in line with dedicated standards. To produce the best possible results, we’d never take more of the crown than necessary. Where a vast amount of thinning is required, it should be done over longer periods, with at least a year between sessions.
A 10% thinning will provide far more light and space than you’d expect, and is often enough to change the appearance and volume of your trees significantly. We wouldn’t suggest anything over 20%, as it can lead to the associated issues we discuss further into this content.
1. We assess your tree
On first sight, it’s essential to work out how much thinning is required and if that will be a safe amount for your tree to cope with, without impacting its health.
Taking out too many stems or branches can result in the tree fighting back to produce speedy ways of gathering the nutrients it needs. The most typical reaction is through epicormic sprouting and should be avoided wherever possible.
2. Our next step is choosing the best branches for thinning
We look for stems with narrow V-shaped angles of attachment to cut first. The bark between these stems can form a sharp-angled wedge that prevents a strong attachment. Removing one of the stems promotes healthier growth and less likelihood of cracking at the joint.
Ideally, strong U shaped attachments are the best for your trees, so we leave all of these intact, encouraging the premium health of your tree.
3. All of our cuts are carried out to maintain the health and integrity of your tree
Pruning branches to attain their best health, function, and form means never having a branch that is more than a half to three-quarters the diameter of the branch at its point of attachment.
Another sign of poorly pruned trees is what is known as ‘lions tails’. These are tufts of foliage at the ends of branches where the inner lateral branches have been overcut and over-thinned.
4. It’s necessary to monitor progress, to attain the shape you want
To create the best looking and even thinning, it’s essential to monitor progress at every stage. To achieve uniform density across all branches takes care and consistency. Keeping a trained eye on the process will deliver the perfect result from the practice.
Key areas of concern when carrying out crown thinning
As mentioned, removing more foliage, branches and stems than your tree can safely handle can deliver a severe impact to your tree’s health.
That’s why thinning must be carried out systematically, supporting structure and maintaining optimum health.
To prevent growth problems likely to lead to drastic recovery measures, thinning can be carried out on smaller trees to encourage wholesome growth patterns over time.
Possible problems associated with over-thinning
- Excessive production of water shoots, compensating for the loss of branches. These shoots grow incredibly fast, making your tree even denser than before.
- Previously protected branches can suffer from sunburn or sun-scald. It tends to happen more with sensitive trees and can result in bark cracking and die-back.
- Over-thinning can put a tree into shock, and cause real decline.
Have you got a tree that needs thinning?
We are an award-winning team working throughout East Anglia and the Suffolk region. Our headquarters are in Newmarket, making us central for most locations. Our commercial and domestic work is highly revered, and our team are some of the best in the field.
We work to the high standards set by our governing bodies, delivering some of the most beautiful work seen in the area. If you’d like to know more about our services, or if you have a tree that needs thinning, lifting, or reducing—give us a shout—we’d love to hear from you.