In The News

Large Tree Pruning

March 29, 2021 by Matthew Ward, ISA Certified Arborist PD-1673
This stately elm tree is perfectly located in the center of the driveway. The canopy receives full sunlight to the southern exposure and grows significantly every year. We perform outer canopy pruning every other year, and inside the canopy we have installed six steel cables with eyebolts to reduce the exposure for limb failure. This is one of my favorite trees in the community.

Philadelphia’s Main Line community has a true appreciation for horticulture and the majestic trees that dominate our landscape. An important component of a tree preservation program is periodic tree pruning.

The first step is to have a plan. A client meeting will produce our goals and objectives for pruning a large tree. Increasingly, the number one goal is safety. Other goals often include reducing trees from homes and pools, increasing sunlight penetration, maintaining general tree health, and prolonging a tree’s life.

Large tree pruning is performed by our most experienced arborists. In additional to having strong technical climbing skills, climbers must possess an understanding of tree biology. Every live limb is removed for a reason — each cut can potentially change the growth of the tree and do more harm than good.

This large elm is close to the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial. It is a unique tree that provides shade to the burial site of the eighteenth President of the United States of America. We removed dead wood and thinned heavy limbs as needed to reduce the exposure for breakage and preserve this important tree.

In order to achieve our goals, we often focus our pruning to reduce the foliage mass and weight at the ends of the largest and longest limbs. We also look carefully for defects that are invisible from the ground. We consider the structure and integrity of limb attachment points. Especially with our most mature trees, we intentionally leave as much interior foliage as possible.

Climbers are constantly making adjustments to our pruning plan based on what they are seeing in the canopy. Their experience and expertise are key to ensuring a first-class job.


This large red oak tree had developed significant dead wood. We pruned out the dead wood, including reducing the declining tips to viable live growth. Additional plant health care treatments will follow this year. Our goal is to extend the life of this tree while reducing the exposure for safety issues.



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