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Trees need to be pruned correctly. A well pruned tree is a thing of beauty, balanced and in proportion to its surroundings, with its natural form and shape enhanced. This is not easy to achieve. At Four Seasons Tree Care we take great pride in the quality of our pruning and have a vast experience of pruning trees of all species and sizes.

It is an unfortunate fact that bad pruning can be very detrimental to trees, often shortening their lifespan and producing an unsightly and possibly unsafe result. Lopping and topping are terms to describe such unskilled cutting of trees and are not practices that we would ever promote.

The British Standards Institute have produced BS 3998 : 2010 Tree Work – Recommendations. We follow very closely the recommendations and practices contained in this document.

Here is a description of the more common types of tree pruning that we undertake, (as described in BS3998, 2010) :

Formative pruning

This type of pruning is designed to promote a strong, healthy tree with good form and balance. It is usually carried out on younger trees. Dead and diseased growth is pruned out as well as crossing, weak and wayward growth. Codominant stems can often be singled at this early stage.

Lifting the crown

This is a common practice whereby lower growth is removed so as to create more space beneath the tree crown. This can allow access along paths, roads and drives, or open up a view beyond the tree. A well lifted tree will retain a natural looking crown shape and balance. This practice can provide more light to garden areas below the tree.

Thinning the crown

This operation is applied to reduce the density of a tree’s crown and so allow better penetration of natural light through the crown and to surrounding garden or property. A proportion of inner branches are removed without altering the overall height, spread or shape of a tree.

Crown reduction

This is undertaken for a number of reasons. The overall height and spread of a tree can be reduced to allow a tree to better fit available space, particularly in our often crowded urban environments. Sometimes trees develop very heavy limbs that may be at risk of breaking and a weight reduction can prevent this. Trees can suffer root damage through disease or careless ground works leaving them at risk of windthrow; this is another example of where crown reduction may be appropriate. An example can be seen of a Crown Reduction for an Oak Tree in Oxford.


This is the practice of removing all of the tree crown to a specific height or back to pollard points on an established pollard tree. It is the most severe form of pruning and whilst not appropriate in many situations it is a credible form of pruning for certain purposes. Many of our street trees such as Limes and London Planes are periodically pruned in this way. Indeed some of our oldest parkland veterans were once pollarded trees. Older pollarded trees can provide varied and dynamic eco-systems.

Tree bracing and support

We are often find trees have developed with structural problems. This can lead to trees breaking apart or needing to be removed. We can provide a number of solutions to these problems. We can install modern synthetic rope restraints to support weak stem unions and over heavy limbs. We also fit bespoke steel props to prevent older trees from collapsing. This can be particularly suitable for older Mulberry and other fruit trees. Please see our recent Mulberry Rescue article.