First is the overall health of the tree. Dead limbs, broken limbs and branch stubs should be pruned out. This allows the tree to compartmentalize or close the wound. Next we look for crossing limbs; limbs that have been allowed to grow over the top of another creating wounds as they rub each other. We look for limbs with included bark or other defects. We try to promote good branch scaffolding.
Then we do selective thinning out on the ends of branches. This allows for sunlight to penetrate throughout the crown of the tree in order to keep interior branches alive. Selective thinning also helps reduce the potential for storm damage.
Topping is the indiscriminate cutting back of tree branches to stubs, or laterals that are to small to assume the terminal role. Topping opens wood to decay and causes excessive sprouting. In some cases it outright kills the tree. It reduces the trees ability to produce food, and if it lives… the tree is now more susceptible to falling apart.
A common reason given by homeowners for wanting their tree topped is that they think it’s too big. Each species of tree is genetically designed to grow to a certain size. If it’s really too large for an area… or if you just don’t feel safe around it, then perhaps removing the tree should be considered. Topping it will just make it more dangerous in the future… and it’s just not right. Pruning small trees is not a difficult task if you have the right tools.
There are several good references available to guide you through the process. If you have to get out a ladder to prune… you may want to think twice. Professional arborists rarely trim from a ladder. It is very dangerous. How much money will it cost you if you should fall and seriously injure yourself? Chances are it would cost you much more than it would cost to have the tree trimmed by a professional. Trimming larger trees should be done by the pros. We have the equipment, knowledge and training to do the job right.