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Has Your Tree Grown Too Big For Your Space? Learn how ‘œReduction Pruning’ can help.

By Micah Pace, Urban Forestry Specialist, Certified Arborist – TX 3752A

Professional arborists use many pruning techniques to maintain and care for your valuable urban trees. Normally, efforts are designed to maximize the growth of our trees and therefore maximize the value they represent on our properties and within our communities.

However, the management needs and goals vary from tree to tree, site to site, and customer to customer. It is the arborist’s job to balance the management needs of the tree with the goals of the client within the limits of the site. Often this can be a real challenge, especially in densely developed urban properties.

It is common for a property to have limited planting/growing space for mature large statured species, such as live oak (Quercus virginiana) or American elm (Ulmus Americana). This often leads to conflicts with structures or other trees on neighboring properties. One of the valuable tools used to mitigate this conflict is reduction pruning.

Reduction pruning is the process of reducing the size of a tree’s canopy by pruning limbs back to an appropriately sized lateral branch. This is particularly useful for over-extended branches to control the overall size of a tree or major branch, to balance the canopy, and to avoid conflict with other trees or structures. Reduction pruning can avoid damage to homes, other trees, or the tree itself. It also lowers the risk of major breaks during wind or ice storms.


The long over-extended limb growing to the right makes this tree a good candidate for reduction pruning to balance the canopy.

In order to align with ANSI A300 Pruning Standards, Part 1, recommendations for reduction pruning should state clear specifications for the length of reduction cuts. In the cedar elm tree below, the tree and its location were identified on the property, the targeted limb was indicated, the length of reduction was listed, and the overall goal for pruning determined. Providing clear and concise proposals and work orders will enable good communication with both the client and the crew to ensure the intended work is completed and the management priority is met.


Before & After: A large American elm in required Canopy Reduction to clear the neighbor’s driveway and garage to the east, and Canopy Lifting/Raising to provide appropriate clearance over both sidewalk and street, as per City Code.

With heavy rains this spring, many trees have had a large flush of growth this summer, which has resulted in many trees with elongated limbs with successive end weight. Upcoming storms this fall and winter could increase the risk of limb failure for trees. Preservation Tree Services, Inc. works with all clients to maximize the health and value of their trees.

If your trees had a great growing season, now’s the time to schedule fall and winter pruning to avoid loss or damage to your tree(s) and/or property.

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