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How to Notice Improper Pruning

How to Notice Improper Pruning

Improper pruning can do some serious harm to plants (especially trees), even killing them.

It’s that time of year when everything is growing like crazy and it can be more than a little overwhelming. You toughed it out over the winter, waiting for things to grow again, and the spring while the green slowly emerged. Now, it seems like the greenery has taken over everything and it is almost too much. Don’t just jump at it all with those pruning shears though. Improper pruning can do some serious harm to plants (especially trees), even killing them, so take time to research or call a professional for assistance. In the meantime, be on the look out for these signs of improper pruning. 

Topping Or Pollarding

Topping is when the upper branches are removed to keep the tree shorter, but they’re not removed methodically. This is often done by utility companies who come through to clear trees away from their lines – it is not a heathy thing for the tree. Pollarding is similar to topping, but it is done season after season to train the tree to be short.

Crown Raising

Crown raising is when the crown of the tree is pruned to make it go higher. In some cases, it results in a “lion’s tail” where the trunk is very long and bare and there is a ball of foliage at the top. This is a horrible way for a tree to grow. In general, trees know where they need to grow to get the sunlight that they need to support their own growth. If the tree is growing in the path of something dangerous, a professional can prune it to safely raise the crown only as much as is absolutely necessary.


Thinning has traditionally been done with good intent: the idea was that by thinning out he branches in the tree’s canopy, more light and air could get in to the branches and they would be healthier. The opposite seems to be true, however. Thinning trees makes them less healthy and more prone to damage. In fact, even gentle breezes are more likely to cause limb breakage in thinned trees. Thinning also increases the workload on the remaining branches, since there is less leaf surface to conduct photosynthesis to feed the tree. Finally, thinning often disproportionately impacts interior branches (those are the ones that get thinned), which makes the branches that remain heavier at their ends (not a good thing). This is especially true with fruit trees (we thin these to push the fruits outwards to the ends on purpose). 

Tree Care and Maintenance from Harford Tree

Ready to have the beautiful yard you have always dreamed of? Harford Tree Experts & Landscaping, Inc has been in the business for decades, providing customers with quality work and quick responses all at the right price. We service the areas of Harford County, Baltimore County, Baltimore City areas including Bel Air, Fallston, Perry Hall, Towson, Essex, Parkville, White Marsh, and Middle River. For service during business hours, reach out to us or give us a call at 410-592-7321. We offer 24/7 emergency service as well, just give us a call at 443-250-6649. For updates about our business and more informative tips, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

This entry was posted on Friday, June 17th, 2022 at 11:34 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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