Tree Surgery – Crown Reduction

How To Properly Make Your Tree Shorter

Crown Reduction is the best pruning technique to use when you want to make your tree shorter because, if you do it properly, you will cause as little damage to your tree as possible. Damage, decay, rot, and injury are all best defended against by the parts of your tree known as branch collars. Collars are where your tree’s defense chemicals are made and the strongest disease barriers are located there also. So remember when pruning trees, it’s vital not to cut or damage the collar of the branch you are removing.

That being said, the process of crown reduction is done by selecting a leader on a branch (preferably near the upper middle area of the crown) that is at the height that you want your tree to be when you’re done. Once you have found your main leader, follow the steps below:

  1. Cut that branch off at the new leader using the proper tree cutting technique.
  2. Move away from the tree to a distance so that you can see the bigger picture of what your tree is beginning to look like.
  3. From that perspective, select another good leader on a different branch that is at roughly the same height as the main leader.
  4. Cut that branch the same way.
  5. Repeat steps 2 through 4 until the whole tree is reduced to the height of your main leader.
pruning beaver displays proper crown reduction and shaping technique

Some practical reasons for crown reduction:

  • You want to keep your tree shorter than it’s mature height to limit the potential energy of larger limbs. Just in case they break off during periods of intense wind, storm, or heavy snowfall.
  • You need to keep your tree from growing up into objects above it such as power lines, clothes lines, eaves troughs, street lights, or yard lamps.

Some aesthetic reasons for crown reduction:

  • Your tree has not grown evenly across the top and requires a few branches to be cut back just to even out the top edge of its crown.
  • You dislike the shape or appearance of your tree and you feel that a complete overhaul would fix the entire look and size of it.
  • Your landscape design requires a specific tree to remain a shorter height than it has potential to grow.

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