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Formative Pruning

When surveying trees during our site visits we commonly find issues such as co-dominant stems where the included union (compression fork) between the two stems is at risk of failure.  Sadly more often than not this kind of development in the trees crown could of easily been corrected when the tree was a lot younger.
When trees are young Formative pruning is used to remove any potential issues that the tree would otherwise develop.  When working on a number of young trees costs can be as low as £5 per tree, which if it increases the safe life of a tree by 100's of years would be wise to consider!
Co-dominant stems

BS3998 : 2010 Tree Work Recommendations states that the main aim of formative pruning is to produce a tree which in maturity will be free from any major physical weakness.  Formative pruning can also be used to influence tree structure and form depending on species and location.  High level espalier planting uses formative pruning to establish a defined lateral branch structure to create a narrow screen.  Tree surgeons should be looking to remove crossing or rubbing branches that may ultimately lead to the failure of both, whereas ideally one of the branches should be retained.  Pruning cuts should ideally be limited to 20mm diameter, as this enables the tree to recover from the wound rapidly.

Ideally 3-5 years after planting (depending on tree growth rate) newly planted trees should be assessed whether they need formative pruning.  If there are any major issues in new stock that we have supplied and planted we will have already pruned the trees or rejected the stock.  Therefore allowing the tree to focus all its energy on establishment.  Thereafter every 5 years would usually be adequate to check and address any issues.  

The savings made from early tree care are huge as a good structure will require far less future management.  But formative pruning is not just for your pocket!  The tree will benefit as well, as smaller cuts removing less percentage of foliage will cause less stress and enable the tree to occlude the pruning cut easily with far less risk of decay infection.

Fruit trees can require a greater degree of formative pruning if canopies are to be managed in order to allow for easier access to the fruit.

Timing of formative pruning can vary depending on tree species and the likely amount  of foliage that will require removing.  So call us for further advice.