All Is Not Equal

By: Jeff Hagfors, Certified Arborist WI-0181A

Fall 2004 Newsletter in Adobe PDF format A disscussion of the various pruning types.

A knowledgeable and experienced arborist knows that all tree pruning is not equal. The arborist assesses each tree individually and then decides what type of pruning the tree needs. Crown cleaning, crown thinning, crown raising, crown restoration, deadwood pruning and training pruning are nationally accepted standards of tree pruning developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The standards are extensive and involved. They are there to protect the consumer. At Wachtel our knowledgeable and experienced Certified Arborists will help you benefit from these standards and assist you in determining what type of pruning your trees will need.

The different types of tree pruning are:

Crown Cleaning—the removal of dead, dying, diseased, crowded, weak, low vigor branches and watersprouts from a tree’s crown. This standard is one of the most commonly used. Crown Thinning—includes all of the above in crown cleaning and in addition, the remaining live canopy is selectively thinned out to increase light penetration and air movement. It is also useful for reducing weight on branch ends. Crown thinning should never exceed more than 25% of the live crown being removed. Fifteen to twenty percent is typical.

Deadwood Pruning—just as it sounds, the deadwood is properly pruned out of the tree’s entire crown.

The three pruning types listed above usually are denoted with a diameter size. This means that specific attention will be placed on branches of that diameter and larger; common examples are 1/4", 1/2", 1" or 2" diameter branches and larger.

Crown Raising—the pruning off of the lower branches to provide clearance. This clearance could be needed for houses, lights, garages, utility lines, vehicle or pedestrian traffic or to clear other plants. Crown raising alone does not address needs that are met in a crown cleaning, crown thinning or deadwood pruning. Crown raising is usually done in conjunction with other pruning.

Training Pruning—the most underutilized category of pruning. Training pruning is done with the specific intent to promote the best branch spacing and a single leader which will develop a superior form as the tree matures. Future form is the goal. Trees that receive training pruning while young tend to need less pruning as they mature.

All pruning is not equal. What is needed for one tree may not be appropriate for another. Finding an arborist who knows this is very important. At Wachtel our knowledgeable and experienced Certified Arborists will help you determine what type of pruning is needed for your trees. The standard has been set. Don’t play games of chance with untrained tree cutters. Choose the leader—choose Wachtel!

© Copyright 2004 – Wachtel Tree Science & Service, Inc.

Return to Newsletters


Request a Consultant

Interested in having one of our qualified staff contact you about your trees and landscaping? Let us know your ZIP code and we'll let you know who's in your area.

Request a Municipal Specialist

Specialized Services:

  • Urban Forest Management
  • Tree Preservation Planning Involving Wooded Sites
  • Corporate Campus Tree Mapping & Assessment

Click to Contact


  • Robert & Dorothy Miller - Mequon

    " Tree removal was recommended, we had a contract, the job was completed on Tuesday. We are very pleased, excellent team work. Thank you to Anthony."

  • John K. - Waukesha

    "Always pleased with how you keep our trees happy and healthy!  Thanks!"

Winter tree care and pruning newsletter

Seasonal Tree Care Newsletter

Read More

International Society of Arboriculture The Tree Care Industry Association Wisconsin Arborist Association TCIA Member


of tree care