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Tree pruning guide
The best way to keep a tree healthy and under control is through
regular and correct pruning.
If branches from a tree owned by Medway Council are brushing on
the roof or gutter of your house, Medway Council's tree officers
will inspect and where necessary, prune trees to clear branches
which brush against any property.
If squirrels climb from a tree growing on Medway Council's land
and on to your roof, the council will prune where the work does not
disfigure the tree, but it will not fell or disfigure a tree.
The council does not carry out tree pruning for private
residents. You can contact an approved tree contractor either
through the Medway Council Fair Trader scheme or through the
Please check to see if there are any Tree Preservation
Orders or if the trees are in a Conservation Area before undertaking any
work. Anyone can apply for permission to work on a protected tree,
but you may need permission from the owner of the tree if it is not
If you are a council housing tenant who thinks that a tree on
your estate needs pruning, you should contact your housing officer who will decide whether the
work needs to be undertaken.
The advice below details the correct way to remove a branches
and support trees with stakes:
- If the branch is a large one, it is best to reduce it in
segments to prevent it falling dangerously or damaging the tree by
tearing the bark. Following the diagram on the left, begin removing
each segment with a cut up about a third of the way from the
underside of the branch (1).
- Continue by cutting down about two-thirds of the way through
the branch a little bit further up the branch. This should cause
the branch to fall with minimal damage to the tree.
- Once most of the branch has been removed, make the final cut
across the branch collar (A-B) to remove the stub. Leave the collar
intact, or this could be the cause of infection to the tree.
- Make sure you don’t cut the tree further than the end branch
collar (D) – this will cut through the tree's barrier zones and
make it extremely prone to disease.
Reduction of a branch
- When it is necessary to reduce the branch of a tree, cut from A
to B in the diagram on the right (3) after the top has been
removed, (1 and 2).
- Point B is at right angles to the main branch from point C,
(the bottom of the branch bark ridge). The remaining branch should
be at least one third the diameter of the stem to be cut.
The parts to be removed for the process of crown reduction are
shown in dotted lines on the diagram below. Use the techniques
detailed above to remove the necessary branches.
It must be stressed that while crown reduction is a useful
technique for reducing the spread of a tree, crown
thinning is a different matter – by removing many branches
at their base you are very likely to damage the tree and make it
susceptible to disease.
When a young tree needs staking, it is best to use strong, round
wood about 8cm in diameter and long enough to stake your tree, as
shown in the diagram below. Use a good brand of tree ties to fix
the tree to the stake.
A suitable point for the tie is just below the first branch of
clear-stemmed trees when using a full stake or approximately
30-60cm above ground level when using a half stake. Any snags and
burrs which will cause chafing of trees should be removed.
You should try to put the stake on the windward side of the tree
or in the case of trees near roads, on the side facing the
Take care when you are positioning the stake to avoid rubbing
the bark, as this will damage the tree.