Tree Pruning & Reductions

Tree Surgery Reductions

In summary, this is the removal of the trees height or spread. The result of a reduction is to allow light into an area, as well as reducing wind resistance and the weight throughout the crown. If a tree has outgrown a particular area we can bring it back to a suitable size and shape, whilst maintaining a natural and balanced look. It is worth noting that the smaller the reduction the more natural the finish.

Please find below a useful glossary of terms and a detailed explanation to describe different tree surgery procedures.

South Bucks Tree Surgeons Limited provide a free of charge no obligation quotation. If you need advice or guidance on how to achieve the right results for your outside space or ensure your tree is safe & at its best please do not hesitate to call us to arrange a meeting with one of our Technical Directors.

Crown Reductions

When a crown reduction is carried out an amount of foliage specified in metres is removed from the canopy’s height and spread. It retains the main framework of the crown and therefore a high proportion of the foliage-bearing structure, which is important for the general health and well being of the tree. Pruning cuts are always made at branch junctions where the tree seals off the wounds better and the tree is left with a more natural look. All reductions are done in accordance with British standards (3998) for tree work 2010.

There are several reasons for opting for a crown reduction. Even a small reduction alleviates mechanical wind stress by reducing the leverage on individual branches, the main stem and the root plate. This decrease in 'sail area' can reduce the potential for failure prolonging the life expectancy of a tree and reducing the risk to nearby targets such as buildings, roads, footpaths, gardens or high usage areas.

This procedure can also allow retention of a tree in a confined space. Some species are more than capable of out growing their location. Little and often generally is a much better management strategy to ensure prolonged tree health. Saying that, all trees react differently to pruning so we will be happy to advise on the best management practices for your individual tree.

Other reasons for reducing a tree is to create a desired appearance or to make the tree more suited to its surroundings. A nicely pruned tree can be a thing of beauty, complementing the appearance of its surroundings.

In some cases a reduction can allow light into a desired area or open up a line of sight to expose a wonderful view.

Reductions can also help to prolong the life of decaying or veteran trees by relieving pressure from potential weak areas. Ancient and veteran trees can have significant ecological and biological advantages so management to prolong the life of these trees is important. Parts of the crown can be retained by pruning, meaning the tree will have a better potential leaf area for increased photosynthesis to fuel the trees processes for years to come.

A reduction can even rejuvenate a declining tree enabling a healthier future.

Crown Thinning

This is the removal of a proportion of small, live branches from throughout the crown of a tree to achieve an even density of foliage around a well-spaced and balanced branch structure. Material is removed systematically from throughout the whole tree rather than from the inner crown only. Thinning a tree with a messy dense canopy can significantly improve its appearance.

Thinning a tree allows light to pass through the crown so there are benefits to shrubs and ground level plants below as well as residents needing more light through a dense canopy. Crown lifting is also a good procedure letting light pass under the canopy to whatever lies beneath. By thinning, a tree retains its grandeur and overall natural look, which for some people is essential.

Crown thinning causes little damage to the tree as long as wounds are kept small and the tree isn’t over thinned.

Thinning in not an ideal operation to relieve stress on defective branches or stems, a crown reduction would be more suited to that. Thinning can however relieve the overall sail load to lessen the chance of wind throw. Some species are more suited to being thinned than reduced, we are happy to advise on the best management practices for achieving the desired results to you trees.

Crown Raising

This is the removal of the lowest branches of the tree to raise the height of the canopy. This procedure can allow light to pass under the trees canopy enabling plants, grass, hedges or shrubs beneath to grow more successfully. If you have a tree close to your living space then crown raising can be a very affective way to let more light into your house or on to your patio.

Crown raising is commonly done to give clearance away from roads, car parks, buildings, gardens and footpaths.

Shrub and fruit tree pruning

Pruning fruit trees properly can maximise your fruit quality and production and minimise the chances of disease. Our expert tree surgeons can identify exactly what branches need removing and which should stay.

Pruning too hard is not recommended, this can stimulate the production of vigorous non fruiting upright branches called watershoots. This isn’t ideal as they crowd the crown and prevent light from ripening the shoots and fruit. It is also important to maintain good airflow within the crown to discourage disease.

We can recommend a management plan to keep your fruit trees attractive and productive for years to come.


Pollarding is the removal of small diameter branches normally on a 2-4 yearly cycle from a framework of larger branches developing from the main stem of a tree. As the pollarding cycles pass, a knuckle will form on the branch heads which should always be left on when re-pruning the regrowth. This is important because the knuckle contains energy reserves vital to successful bud burst in spring. Pollarding removes all the energy producing parts so stored reserves are very necessary to replenish lost leaf area.

Once initiated, a pollard should be maintained by cutting the new branches on a cyclical basis. The frequency of the cycle should be decided according to site management objectives, species, age and condition. A Pollarding cycle should not span beyond five years to keep wound size when re-pollarding to a minimum. This is paramount to prevent pathogen entry and to enhance the useful life expectancy of the tree.

Pollarding can be an effective management practice for urban street trees, or trees with only limited growing space. By keeping these trees pollarded the risk of them becoming too large for their location can be controlled. Branches never get to a size where they are in danger of becoming unstable or able to interfere with their surroundings, therefore making this a very safe management practice for trees in an urban environment.

Not all trees respond well to pollarding so we will be happy to advise the best management strategy for your trees.

Dead Wooding

A basic, yet important service, this is the removal of dead branches, which are a natural occurrence with trees. It is vital to carry out dead wooding to prevent any risk of injury or damage when these branches eventually free fall on their own accord.