Crown thinning is the selective pruning of smaller branches of the crown of a tree to maintain an optimal shape as well as provide space for airflow through the tree. Effective crown thinning can improve the health of the tree and contribute to the useability and aesthetics of the surrounding landscape by providing filtered sunlight as opposed to dense shade.

Why do trees need crown thinning?

We all love our trees; a beautiful, dense tree canopy can be an incredible asset, but sometimes crown foliage that is too dense can cause stress to a tree. A dense crown can lead to tree infections, fungal growth and even pest infestation. Dense crowns, combined with a subtropical summer can even lead to rotting of the tree and potential tree failure.  

What is involved in crown thinning?

Crown thinning identifies and removes the branches of the tree that create an overly dense crown. Often these branches will be the secondary branches. When the crown is thinned, the primary branches are identified and retained allowing for correct tree structure to be established. 

Crown thinning, depending on the tree, will most likely involve the outer and external tree branches. The focus is on creating balance within the tree structure and keeping the integrity of the tree whilst removing the density of the branches and associated foliage. 

Crown thinning also includes general tree maintenance principles such as the removal of branches that are dead, dying or diseased. The removal of branches that do not fit the correct structure of the tree such as crossing branches is also a part of crown thinning.

When can I crown thin my trees myself?

As is always our recommendation, if you are in doubt as to whether you should attempt any work on your trees, it is best to call the professionals for advice. In general if you can access the tree easily and safely and the tree is in good health, you may be able to attempt to thin the crown yourself.

If you are attempting the thin the crown remember the following:

  • Never prune more than one-quarter of the crown of the tree. If more than that is required you will need to wait for the next year to continue the process.
  • Consider the trees ideal structure and identify the branches that contribute to this structure.
  • Branches that attach to the tree in a V or sharp angle should be pruned first

Professional Crown Thinning

Professional crown thinning is always recommended for commercial areas, schools, councils and trees that are in public spaces. Consideration should be also given to your experience and the importance of the tree to your landscape. Apart from the obvious safety concerns, the largest issue with DIY crown thinning is overzealous pruning and rough pruning. This leads to a stimulation of growth int he tree and over time, can actually exacerbate the problem you were intending to fix.

A professional arborist will use techniques learned through their studies, training and experience to ensure that the crown of the tree is thinned in the most beneficial way for the tree. This will be done whilst still getting the outcome desired from the crown thinning procedure.

Effective crown thinning can turn a dense and difficult tree into the most desirable plant in the neighbourhood. Thinning the crown means that light can penetrate the foliage; this enables grass or garden to get sunlight below the tree creating a beautiful dappled shaded environment.

If you are considering tree crown thinning or have a tree that you would like advice on how to manage, get in touch with the tree professionals at King’s. Our team of arborists are available to provide consultancy and tree services across Brisbane and the Gold Coast, as well as the surrounding areas.

Get in touch with the team at Kings on 07 5530 2177.