The trimming of mature trees through crown cleaning is an extremely vital pruning exercise. This is because it can save declining trees from further deterioration while also helping healthy trees to better mature.

Crown trimming or cleaning consist of various techniques which has a host of benefits

Technique/ TaskBenefit
Dead wood removalImproves safety and boosts tree health
Removal of crossing branchesReduces mechanical damage during windy days
ThinningBetter light penetration and air circulation reducing fungal issues
Canopy liftAllows more light to penetrate home or lawn
Canopy reductionBoosts overall health and enhances stability
Weight reductionImproves safety and overall tree health

This is the selective removal of dead branches throughout the canopy. Dead branches are always in danger of falling anytime and can cause damage or injury. For the tree, they allow water and insects to enter the heartwood of the tree, which is detrimental to its health and causes further structural instability.

Removal of crossing branches

Removing branches that are either growing inwards toward the center of the canopy or where two branches are touching should be removed. When the wind is blowing, these branches can rub up against each other, shearing off protective bark and allowing water and insects to enter the tree.


Crown thinning is the practice of selectively removing some second and third order branches to allow more light penetration and airflow. This reduces the likelihood of fungal infections.

Removing 10-20% of the tree’s foliage also reduces the strain on the tree and will help promote new growth and the healing of old wounds.

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Canopy lift

This is the removal of the lower branches of a canopy to help with building and pedestrian clearance. It also allows more light to penetrate your home or lawn.

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Canopy reduction

The practice of crown reduction is the removal of the canopy’s outermost extremities to reduce the tree’s size. This promotes a healthier tree, much like crown thinning.

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Weight reduction

This technique is mainly use when a tree is either leaning or the tree has too much foliage on one side or branch. This is done to promote structural stability to the roots of the tree by freeing up some weight and strain as well as promoting new growth in other areas of the tree.

Definition of tree crown cleaning?

Crown cleaning is the process of selectively trimming off vulnerable branches from the extension of a tree that proceeds upwards and outwards from of the trunk. This extension is otherwise referred to as the crown.

The removal of such branches is usually done with a view of reducing the dangers that they may cause both to the tree and the objects in its surroundings.

Injury to humans as well as destruction of property are also some of the risks associated with the natural falling of such branches. The extent of injury and destruction is however also dependent on the weight and height position of such branches.

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What does tree crown cleaning involve?

Crown cleaning which is also known as dead wooding generally involves the removal of problematic branches from a tree’s crown. It is normally done with a view of ensuring that the healthy vegetation on a tree continues thriving.

Mature trees are usually the best candidates for crown cleaning since they are very likely to develop declining vegetation as a result of age. They are also often vulnerable to death, crowding, crossing, weakening, and breaking of branches.

The objectives of tree crown cleaning

The primary objective of crown cleaning is to reduce the dangers which may occur if the diseased, dying, dead, and broken limbs of a tree are allowed to naturally shed off. Such risks include inhibition of tree growth, destruction of property, and human injury.

There are however other objectives that are usually based on aesthetic appearance. They include creating an even distribution of visual weight as well as ensuring the achievement of a more regular tree shape. Both of these go a long way in enhancing the tree’s visual appeal.

Crown cleaning is also done to enhance stability and openness in the structure of a tree. This is because such stability and openness often facilitate proper light penetration throughout the tree while also reducing any damage as a result of wind damage.

How often should you do tree crown cleaning?

It is usually advisable to crown a tree once or twice every five years. The frequency of crowning can however increase depending on the extent of stress and decline that a tree is undergoing. Trees undergoing extreme levels of deterioration often require expert crowning once every half year.

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Tree crown cleaning cost

The average cost of crowning a tree is $950. This is however dependent on a wide range of factors which include tree size, species, location, reachability, and job difficulty. Based on these considerations, the crowning of a tree can either be as cheap as $100 or as costly as $1800.

One can however reduce the cost by opting to do the crowning himself as opposed to hiring professionals. In such cases, one should balance the monetary expense being saved versus the extent of risk being posed.

Tree HeightAverage Crowning Cost
1-30 feet$950
30-60 feet$1,390
60 feet and above$2,000 +

Tools needed for DIY tree crown cleaning

The tools needed for crowning a tree include hand-held pruners, loppers, safety equipment, and ladders just to name a few. Since it can cost a fortune to acquire all these tools at a go, engaging tree crowning experts who already possess them is usually recommended.

ToolAverage cost
Hand-held pruners and loppers$40
Gas pole pruner$225
Safety equipment$100
Ben McInerney
Author: Ben McInerney - Ben is a qualified arborist with 15 plus years of industry experience in Arboriculture. He ran a successful tree service before turning to writing and publishing. Ben is dedicated to providing users with the most accurate up-to-date information on everything trees.