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Arboricultural Terms

Crown Lifting

The crown lifting procedure covers the removal of lower limbs and prepares for the removal of other branches in the future. The process achieves uniform tree height from ground level. Good working practices dictate that tree surgeons do not include large branch removal from the trunk because this causes wounds that compromise long-term tree health.

The most common reasons for using crown lifting include the promotion of natural light penetration and provision of access for traffic or pedestrians. Typical working practices in the UK allows for 5.5m (18ft) of clearance for vehicles and 3.5m (11ft) of clearance for pedestrians.

Crown Thinning

Crown thinning allows for the removal of secondary branches to achieve uniform limb structures without affecting the size or shape of a tree. The process improves light penetration through the tree canopy and reduces shade. Crown thinning also lowers wind resistance and the subsequent loading on tree limbs. This challenging type of tree surgery requires careful consideration and high skill levels.

Crown Reduction

Tree surgeons use crown reduction to reduce the natural spread and height of the tree crown. The process sees the ends of selected branches removed practically without compromising the shape of the tree.


Many property owners misunderstand the concept of pollarding because is often used out of context. Traditionally, pollarding refers to the removal of limbs and branches from the trunk. If a mature specimen hasn’t undergone the procedure in the past, it’s unwise to use it in the future because pollarding causes large wounds that endanger long-term tree health.

A more up-to-date definition of pollarding covers the regular cutting back of small branches on an annual or biannual basis to form a pollard head at a specific point.

Formative Pruning

Formative pruning establishes a solid branch structure or creates a desired shape during the earlier years of tree growth. It also corrects weaknesses and defects at the earliest possible stage.

Drop Crotch Pruning

Tree surgeons use Drop Crotch Pruning to shorten branches by pruning back to a lateral limb. The remaining limb must be a minimum of one-third in diameter of the removed section.

Branch Removal

Tree Surgeons sometimes recommend branch removal to eliminate potential hazards, improve lines of vision or allow access for vehicles and machinery. This is often done in conjunction with detailed surveys and an aboriculture report.

Deadwood Removal

Deadwood removal is a procedure that sees dead limbs and branches cut from the tree canopy. The process covers everything from small branches to the biggest limbs and creates safer woodland environments without compromising long-term tree health.

Target Pruning

The target pruning method is an overall pattern of care that focuses on the needs of the tree, and directs the pruning by removing material that is no longer contributing to the tree’s health or beauty. Dead wood such as shade out die back, broken wood, damaged wood, rubbing and crossing branches, narrow crotching structures, and root crown shoots are typical target cuts. The largest cuts are made first. As the dead wood is removed, and the tree’s most obvious problems are corrected, the tree is reduced to a more sustainable form, and it is easier to assess its needs. This is a continuing process throughout the pruning. As material is removed, the tree is observed, and more corrections are identified.

Tree Felling

This term describes the complete felling of a tree to ground level and often includes the careful removal and lowering of branches to minimise impact on other plants, buildings or structures. Rigging techniques and equipment help the work team to do this safely. Sometimes cranes are also used.

Stump Removal

Stump removal may be done by hand or machine depending on the size of the stump. It is not always appropriate to remove every stump as they provide an important habitat for some endangered UK insects such as Stag Beetles. Stumps infected with Honey Fungus should always be removed to avoid the propagation and spread of this aggressive pathogen.

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