There are several ways to reduce plant size. Reduction pruning typically involves a series of reduction cuts. Reduction cuts are used to train trees and shrubs by cutting back branches. This serves many purposes including: controlling the direction of growth, shortening branches, or removing unwanted branches. Controlling trees through reduction pruning aids in reducing the risk of failure and helps provide clearance from a structure (like buildings and utility lines).
When a reduction cut is made, no stub is left behind. If done properly, the shoot will not grow as vigorously. These cuts direct growth direction, retain a more natural-looking shape, and offer the plant greater light penetration. This in turn allows the interior of the tree to fill out more from the inside out.
Removal cuts, in comparison, cut branches from the branch collar. This is done to thin plants, direct growth, and train limbs upward (also referred to as elevating limbs).
In reduction pruning, branches are cut back to laterals that are at least one third of the diameter of the branch being cut. This rule is flexible, as considering the species, age, and conditions of the tree may change the way you make these cuts. It is important to note that reduction pruning is still considered wounding the tree. With this in mind, starting the pruning process with a young tree is a great way to reduce wounds and therefore reduce the risk of decay, infestation, and disease. Heading cuts are less preferred, but necessary for some project scopes.
When performing reduction pruning to meet certain clearance regulations for buildings or utility lines, there are a couple of routes you could go. Sometimes, the entire canopy must be reduced in height or spread. This is referred to as topping. Conversely, some reduction pruning projects can be tackled by removing portions or individual limbs to balance the canopy or reduce the possibility of breakage.
One thing to consider when reduction pruning is the decay rate of the tree species you are servicing. For example, topping on a high-decay tree would do a lot more damage than on a tree that is more decay-resistant. Species that are more sensitive to decay should be cut more conservatively than those that are not.
Although it is possible to grab your shears and get to work, we advise that you seek out help from professionals in your suburb of Melbourne. Here at Dynamic Arborist, we would be thrilled to serve you! Reach out with any inquiries, and let’s get your reduction pruning project started.