Safe, Injury-Free Tree Maintenance: Tips for DIY Work

Welcome to my blog. My name is Kerry, and I love to do DIY work around the home. While painting high ceilings and putting in garden beds seems to be easy for me, I find climbing into a tree with a saw to trim branches very scary and potentially dangerous. Luckily, over the years, I have gotten past the fear and have found ways to service my trees safely and efficiently without risking grave injury to myself. Sometimes, I admit that I have to call in the pros, but I'll help you identify when that's a necessity as well. Take a look at these posts. I hope they move, entertain and inform you.

Thinning On Top: Why And How To Have A Tree's Crown Thinned


Tree pruning isn't just a case of hacking at branches with big axes and hoping for the best -- various specialised and highly refined techniques are used depending on the tree's needs and what kind of damage it is capable of withstanding. One of these techniques is called crown thinning, and can be applied to a tree for a number of reasons.

What is crown thinning?

Unlike other pruning techniques, crown thinning does not significantly change the overall shape and size of your tree's crown, and the large primary branches of your tree will not be affected. Instead, a portion of the tree's smaller branches and leaves are removed, while the overall structure of the crown is left intact. This procedure serves to decrease foliage density while minimising the amount of damage dealt to the tree. Thinning can be applied to the crown as a whole, but sections of the crown can also be thinned separately to reduce foliage density evenly.

Why should I have my tree's crown thinned?

There are a number of reasons that a tree may benefit from crown thinning:

  • Lowered wind resistance: The removal of small branches and foliage during a crown thinning dramatically reduces the amount of wind resistance the tree creates, making it less vulnerable to being damaged (or damaging its surroundings) during high winds and extreme weather. If a tree's trunk has been damaged by accidents or diseases, crown thinning can significantly reduce the amount of stress placed on the weakened trunk, lessening the chances of a damaged tree falling during high winds.
  • Increased light penetration: Crown thinning can increase the amount of light that passes through a tree's crown, which is useful if larger or overhanging branches are creating unwanted shade.
  • Localised weight reduction: Localised crown thinning can also be used on individual branches, removing smaller secondary branches and foliage to reduce the weight the main branch has to support. Large branches with structural damage or growth defects can often be saved with periodic thinning.

How should I have my tree's crown thinned?

If you have determined that your tree needs its crown thinning, or if you have received notice from your local council or other authorities mandating that the tree's crown be thinned (this often occurs in urban areas to prevent weakened trees from dropping branches and harming passersby), you might want to do it yourself. However, this is only really an option if you have extensive knowledge of proper tree pruning procedures -- every branch cut during pruning inflicts damage to the tree, and improper pruning technique can leave wounds that heal slowly and invite infection. Crown thinning also naturally involves working at high heights unless you're dealing with a small tree or shrub.

As such, it's generally best to hire professional tree surgeons to deal with the problem. You should consult with the surgeons and allow them to inspect the tree themselves before work begins, as they can advise you on the best places to prune and how to minimise the amount of overall thinning that needs to occur. Tree surgeons can also advise you on how to schedule a tree's crown thinning -- while thinning a tree's whole crown in one session is quicker and more convenient, it deals a lot of damage to the tree in a short space of time and limits its chances of recovering properly. Spacing out thinning sessions over a number of weeks or months allows the tree to recover between surgeries, minimising the amount of permanent damage dealt. 


8 June 2016