Tips For Thinning Tree Canopies

Having healthy trees in the garden is understated. They add shade in a garden, provide a habitat for wildlife and create a natural barrier against pesky neighbors. However, those lovely trees can grow and become a nuisance.

In order to add to the tree and other lower story plants’ health, it is advisable to thin the canopy frequently to let sunlight and air in. One doesn’t need to be an expert arborist to trim down a tree’s canopy, although knowing a few tips will be useful.

Reasons for thinning tree canopies

The reason people thin tree canopies is not only so the light and air coming into the yard can be increased. Part of the reason also involve growing a tree in a specific habit, keeping its limbs from being invasive or keeping it from growing too tall. Whatever the reason, thinning the canopies is a selective trimming practice that is done while the plant is in its dormant state for best results.

The goal with thinning the tree is to reduce the thickness of its branches from the crown. Crown thinned trees allow more sunlight to enter the core of its branches and enhance the growth of its stems and leaves. This also allows much more air to flow around which reduces pest and fungal problems.


Thinning tree canopies for brighter gardens

The light trimming needed to bring in more light in a garden is done mostly outside of the tree’s canopy. Uncontrolled growth causes the limbs of the tree to branch out and cover lower story plants. Proper canopy thinning only takes back the tips of a developed tree.

The tree will be weak and unstable if excessive interior limbs are removed. The only interior part that needs to be removed are dead or broken limbs and stems as well as water spouts. Thinning should keep it in a natural form when possible while focusing on making balance in branches to make a sturdy scaffold.

A general guideline is to only remove not more than 15 to 20 percent of a mature tree’s foliage to prevent weak growth and sprouts.


Thinning tree canopies and other guidelines

Thinning removes two-inch think branches. The thicker branches must only be removed when they’re diseased or dead. The cut should be in a slight angle to block moisture away and must be only outside of the parent wood.

The best time to trim is prior to a plant’s new growth for the season and when it is in its dormant state. Remove growth around its edges for a tighter and denser shape. Do not remove too much of the interior material as this will produce a “lion’s tale” appearance which is unwanted and also weakens the tree.