Methods For Tree Thinning


The canopy of an overgrown tree consists of a maze of crossed and rubbing branches. This can lead to major problems, such as weak growth and branch damage. Overgrown tree canopies also have poor sunlight penetration and air circulation, which can result in weaker leaves and fungal diseases. The following guide can help you trim out the overgrowth properly so you have a healthy tree.

Thinning Vs. Topping

Both thinning and topping are methods of controlling an overgrown canopy, but thinning is far superior. Topping consists of simply cutting back the entire top part of the canopy to the same height. This can result in a flat top appearance. It weakens the tree because it removes so many of the leaves. The tree then tries to recover by sending out quick-growing upright branches. These branches can weaken the structural appearance of the tree.

Thinning, on the other hand, selectively removes only the weaker or badly growing branches. This means plenty of healthy branches and leaves remain, along with the healthy framework of branches needed to maintain an attractive shape. Thinning isn't as quick, but the results are a healthier and better looking tree.

Thinning Method

Most trees are thinned in late winter or early spring. The exception is some flowering trees, which are trimmed after they finish flowering in late spring or early summer. First, any weak, crossing branches are removed. These are trimmed back to the nearest healthy branch or the trunk. Next, any branches growing nearly vertical are removed. The healthiest and sturdiest branches tend to grow at a more lateral angle to the trunk. Finally, any twiggy or unhealthy growth is removed.

The key is to cut all of these branches back to the nearest healthy branch or the trunk, thus removing them completely so the remaining branches receive all of the tree's energy for healthy growth.


Thinning doesn't mean you can't still shape the tree. Most trees will develop a pleasing shape on their own if they are properly thinned every year or two. For those that have become overgrown, it is possible to cut back the remaining branches individually. Generally, these are cut back no more than a third of their length. Cuts are also made near a leaf bud, which will hide the stubby cut end when the tree leafs out. A tree trimming company can help you thin and shape your trees properly, especially if it has been a while since they have been pruned. Contact a tree service like MML Tree Service for more information.


6 January 2016

Improving The Look Of Our Trees

After we moved into our house, we knew that something had to be done about our trees. The branches looked off-kilter, and we could tell that someone had pruned them incorrectly at one time or another. Unfortunately, we weren't really sure how to repair the damage. A family friend talked with us about hiring a professional tree trimmer, and so we called them the next day. The difference that they made was astounding. They removed dead branches, trimmed up the shape, and let more sunlight through. My blog is all about improving the look of your trees by hiring a professional.