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Pruning method

By Andrew Noakes, Qualified Arborist and TRAQ Certified Assessor

By Andrew Noakes, Qualified Arborist and TRAQ Certified Assessor

As trees are living beings, they require ongoing maintenance to suit their own health needs and the needs of their surroundings; just as we do. Common tree care practices that support physical health and promote aesthetic beauty are as follows.

Crown Lifting

Removal of low hanging branches to raise the lower canopy of the tree without changing the overall shape of the upper canopy. This is a common practice to provide access underneath (ie roads, livestock, footpaths, fence lines, public areas, etc). The end result brings more light to the surrounding area.


The removal of branches and limbs to thin foliage throughout the tree; reduces the density of branches without reducing the overall height and width of the tree. Thinning allows light and air to filter to the ground and increases air flow through the canopy, benefitting views and gardens. Selective thinning is best done on mid-aged trees or to increase fruit production. It is also undertaken to resolve crossing branches, weak unions and removing deadwood.

Canopy/Crown Reduction

The removal or cutting back of the whole tree to reduce the tree’s overall size. It can be used if the tree is outgrowing its space or if there is a structural issue with the tree (ie fungal or bacterial problems). The process reduces the height and width of the tree and involves finding a midpoint and pruning back to a specific junction with significant foliage, trying to keep the natural desired shape of the tree. Canopy reductions can be undertaken to aid a tree in the process of retrenchment and root shrinkage.

Crown Renewal

This is very similar to a crown reduction but is generally used for a tree that has suffered a significant dieback of either limbs or branches. Prune back the damaged areas to re-form a new shape within the tree.

Cleaning out

Involves the removal of dead, dying, diseased, dangerous or crossing branches or limbs throughout the tree. In certain species this can be as simple as the removal of epicormic shoots (ie non-structural growth).


The training of perennial plants (usually evergreen and woody shrubs and trees) through regular pruning to a desired, unnatural shape (ie geometric, animal, clouds, bonsai, etc). The plants shaped in this way are also referred to as “topiary” and represent a living sculptural art.


The training of trees (usually fruit varieties) to grow along a frame, wall, fence or trellis by formative pruning and tying the branches to the support structure. This is used from large orchards to gardens with limited vertical space available. The plants shaped in this way are referred to as “espaliers.”

I hope this information is helpful to you in planning for your ongoing tree needs. As always, if in doubt about what’s right for your trees, consult a Qualified Arborist.

Next month… The benefits of trees.

Andrew Noakes, of NZ Arb Consultancy, is a local Qualified Arborist and TRAQ Certified Assessor with over 30 years experience caring for trees in a variety of situations.

0204 163 5486

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