What Is Tree Crown Lifting?

As tree surgeons, we often get asked questions about how we perform our job, and how our knowledge of trees comes into play when working with trees. However, deciding how and why you should perform a cut on a tree is not always obvious to the common gardener. In our years, we’ve seen some odd jobs that have been done by hobby gardeners that often result in the death of their beloved tree. So with this in mind, we thought we’d offer insight on tree crown lifting, a procedure commonly carried out amongst members of our trade to keep your trees looking good and letting them thrive, and we’ll offer some guidance on what you need to know about the process too.

Crown lifting is maybe the best way to keep trees on your property healthy, aerated and out of harm’s way. But what exactly is tree crown lifting? 

Tree Crown Lifting is a process where someone removes selected, lower, overgrown branches on a tree. They are often branches that impose a risk to either people’s or the tree’s health. It is also a process of keeping the tree free of lower, older, damaged branches. This allows the higher, well-lit branches to thrive. 

Find out everything there is to know about crown tree lifting with us over at Broadleaf Tree Surgery, a professional collective of surgeons based in Maidstone.

Tree Crown Lifting

In the UK, trees are cherished. Every child wanted a tree in their gardens growing up. It’s for this reason that healthy and attractive trees can often add that value to your property. Keeping your tree healthy should be a priority not just from a sentimental aspect, but also from a financial part too. With that in mind, let’s take an overview of crown lifting at home to understand the basics. 

How To Lift A Tree’s Crown

You should assess the branches and decide not only the risk they present to the tree’s health if they were left attached but also what risks would you present with removing them. You should consider the following:

  1. Is this work necessary? – Tree surgery is dangerous work. Does this limb or branch need cutting at all?
  2. Do I have the correct tools? – The best-laid plans often fail at the first hurdle. Do you have adequate equipment to perform your job? This includes any safety protection for your entire body if using a chainsaw.
  3. Is the tree protected with a TPO? – If your tree is protected with a Tree Preservation Order then you may have to apply with your local authority up to eight weeks in advance of starting work. 
  4. Decide to what height you are lifting – All crown lifts are done to a pre-determined height. As tree surgeons, we would say that we will ‘lift to 3 metres’ for example, meaning that we remove everything from below that agreed-upon height. We chose this height based on a combination of the tree’s health, the client’s wishes and the safety risks imposed by branches below that height. 
  5. Picking which branches to lift – As a rule, you don’t want to reduce the crown of a tree by more than 15% of the crown’s live height. This means cutting only those branches which impose a specific risk to others, nearby property or to the tree itself.
  6. Do you know how to use your tools? – Picking the correct tools is one thing, but knowing how to use them is another. Tool safety, correct rigging and having enough people available to assist in performing a cut is an aspect people often overlook and it often leads to injury when not considered. Check out our FAQ Page for advice on the correct methods when cutting a tree at home.
  7. Decide what’s right for you – Crown lifting can impose a significant risk to your tree’s well-being. If you are unsure about how best to keep the trees on your property healthy, or you have any other concerns, then make sure to contact a professional tree surgeon. 

However you carry out your cuts, always keep the tree’s health at the forefront of your mind. Improper cuts lead to trees being less safe further down the line and always create more work than they solve. 

Keeping Your Trees Healthy

Keeping your trees healthy is what we do. Tree crown lifting is an important part of tree surgery as it removes dormant branches from the canopy to allow the tree’s resources to be utilised further up the tree. If a cut is performed incorrectly then it could lead to a tree becoming malnourished or even infected.  Here are some considerations for popular British trees. No one rule applies to all.

Crown Tree Lifting With Ash

Ash trees are susceptible to a disease called ‘ash dieback’. If you haven’t heard of ash dieback, we cover it extensively in our post on Everything You Need To Know About Ash Dieback. It is a fungal infection that may wipe out many of the ash trees that grow natively here in the UK and is one of the biggest considerations for anyone working with ash trees.

Ash dieback propagates through the branches of ash trees, often through dead wood and humus, the dropping of the tree usually found underneath the canopy. Keeping this wood from falling off rotting, and being a breeding ground for the fungus is the best way to keep ash dieback at bay. 

Crown tree lifting is a positive action where surgeons remove these old branches and allow stronger, healthier branches to thrive further up the tree. Crown lifting is therefore incredibly important for keeping ash trees healthy on your property. 

The best time to prune ash is early in the summer, as this gives the tree the best defence against die back by promoting positive sap movement to the tree’s open wound. This helps push out any fungal infection through capillary action.

Crown Lifting With Pine, Fern and Conifer

Pine can get overgrown quickly. Naturally, their shape gets wider at the bottom. As such, you need to prune the bottoms of pines regularly to keep them from overgrowing. 

Other trees similar to pine such as ferns and conifers suffer from the same issues. Keeping your pines, ferns and conifers under control is not just a consideration of their health, but also their looks, too. 

Conifers in particular can be cut-back fairly easily as their branches do not bear much weight. You should consider good eyewear when working with trees such as ferns, pine and conifers as their branches cause a severe risk to the eyes. 

Keep Your Trees Looking Good By Crown Lifting

Keeping your trees looking good is also a consideration when looking into crown lifting. Smaller or older branches that find their way under the healthy canopy of a tree often are without the light that the top part of the crown enjoys. 

Of course, a tree’s health is often linked to the way it looks. A healthy tree is a happy tree, so you should only consider pruning the lower branches of a tree if it won’t result in a loss of resources for the rest further up. 

Crown Lifting For Safety

As well as keeping your trees healthy and looking good, you may also want to have its crown lifted for safety purposes. 

A tree naturally imposes certain threats to property and people differently, so let’s deal with both to see how the help of a professional tree surgeon could be a safe course of action in your home. 

Protecting Property

Keeping your property safe is a popular reason for having a tree’s crown lifted. Trees that grow near a house or its outbuildings can impose a risk if its branches encroach on the building’s windows, roof tiles or gutters. 

Cutting a branch from a tree releases built-up potential energy between the branch and gravity, which sometimes leads to the branch falling unpredictably. It’s always good practice to get professional help where property is involved. 

Protecting Others

Protecting others is one of the main reasons you would want to lift its crown. Branches encroaching on footpaths, driveways or even in gardens impose a real and serious risk, with many local councils and homeowners often being the ones who are liable. For this reason, performing the removal of lower branches is important and it is one of the most requested jobs we get at arborists. 

You want to consider the tree’s relationship with its surroundings and consider cutting off branches based on where the tree is located. If a tree is on your property but is not within a distance of any roads, then a head height should be considered. This would be a lift to 7 feet off the ground. 

When a tree is on your property and it may come in contact with cars, vans or lorries, a cut of up to 5 metres may be deemed appropriate. This guidance will be issued by a trained arborist if you are proactive with your tree care. In some cases, your local council will issue an order for your tree to be cut to a safe standard if its low-hanging branches encroach on council land and cause an issue to safety. In the event of this happening, you will be issued an order with the following guidelines:

  • 1 Emergency – work must be completed within 24 hours.
  • 2 Urgent – work must be completed within seven working days.
  • 3A Developing – work must be completed within six months.
  • 3B Slowly Developing – work must be completed within 18 months.

Tree Crown Lifting With Broadleaf Tree Surgery

Most arboreal practices are incredibly dangerous and unfortunately, crown lifting is no different. Not only do trees impose a risk to personal safety when being cut, but they also pose a risk to others if they hang over public property. As mentioned, if trees are cut incorrectly then they can impose further risks should they become infected or malnourished. 

It is always our advice to seek advice and help from trained professionals as bad tree surgery can have severe consequences not only for the tree but for others around you.

For professional help in Kent and the surrounding areas, consider Broadleaf Tree Surgery. We have over 15 years of experience in crown lifting and offer services ranging from Tree Planting to Full Tree Removal and more.

Contact us today or call 08009995323.


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