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Tree pruning/cutting

I would really appreciate some advice with this one. I have 2 jobs booked in next week, which are very similar. Both customers have trees which have thin branches growing upwards that they would like cut back in rder to keep the trees small and in shape. I can see where the previous pruning has taken place. A couple of question:

1. Do I cut back just below the previous pruning cut? This would save a considerable amount of work, as branches have grown out from the previous cut. Or, do I cut back the branches that have grown?

2. If the answer to 1 is to cut back the branches that have grown. My intention was to use secateurs for each branch. Given the size and number of trees, this is going to take a long time, especially with the taller branches. Could I use the long reach hedge cutter? It would allow me to get the shape.

Hopefully the above makes sense. Any advice appreciated.



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  • PRO

    You could do the first one if there is a node for a branch to grow back from and keep a good shaped tree but you could also make a tree full of coat hangers that just die back or make a load of upright water shoots.

  • Thanks, Dave. Does sound a bit of a gamble. 

  • If possible, I try and cut back a larger branch back to a smaller side branch............... unfortunately, there often isn't one.  Otherwise, I'll cut back all the thin growths back to the previous pruning cut.... your option 2....   but I leave one "growth" which I'll reduce by roughly a half.   Option 1  tends to make a tree look pretty awful and you'll just end up with loads of "water shoots" from the cuts.

    Sadly, once a tree has been pruned hard like this, they very rarely get the "natural" look again.  If they're kept pruned/shaped regularly from a very early stage rather than leaving it for years, they will usually look ok though. 


  • PRO

    Agreed with Dave and Graham...I dont think I would go near a long reach hedgetrimmer... but others may say thats what they would do

  • PRO

     What sort of trees are they and have they been intentionally pollarded or just given the haircut treatment previously. I would be tempted to thin out the crown to get a more natural look and reduce regrowth then tackle it similar next year, but if the pruning is going to be annual then usually you cut just above the pollard rather than taking the whole thing off. The problem with this is that it will need to be done every year as it just encourages more vigorous growth. Depending on the type of tree trimming may be possible.


    • Thank you all for your replies. I think I will leave the long reach at home and just cut back. Will take longer but will look much better. 

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