When should I prune?


It is often necessary to prune trees in order to achieve a satisfactory balance between trees and structures, between green space and the built environment, between mother nature and man-made development. Whilst there are many good reasons to prune trees there are also bad reasons to prune trees, likewise there is a right time to prune trees and a wrong time to prune trees (and shrubs).

Good reasons to prune trees include

  • Safety: the removal of dead, diseased or otherwise defective parts of a tree that may cause harm or injury
  • Security: to improve sight lines, clear lamp columns and road signage
  • Statute: to comply with current legislation such as The Highways Act 1980
  • Fruit Production: to improve both the quality and quantity of fruit produced
  • Aesthetics: to enhance the overall appearance of a tree
  • Property Maintenance: to maintain the fabric of built structures
  • Grounds Maintenance: to facilitate maintenance of the outdoor environment

When to prune and when not to prune

A tree utilises two types of energy, namely; ‘potential’ and ‘kinetic’. In order for a tree to remain healthy the balance of energy must be in favour of ‘potential or ‘stored’ energy.

There are seven stages in the annual cycle of a tree, as indicated below. The stages in green are when the potential energy is greater than the kinetic energy; the stages in red are when the kinetic energy is greater than the potential energy.

Pruning guide

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