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ABCs of Tree Trimming and Pruning in Wilmington, DE: What do All Those Terms Mean?

By Stein Tree
Posted on July 21, 2017

Tree trimming and pruning in Wilmington, DE is a key part of lawn care and maintenance. The techniques used are about working with and encouraging a plant’s natural growth pattern both during early development and beyond. Tree trimming and pruning in Wilmington DE helps homeowners by removing diseased, damaged, dead, structurally unsound, or otherwise unwanted aspects of trees or shrubs to encourage vitality and keep yards looking beautiful.

Of course, a variety of methods are involved in tree trimming and shrub pruning. Knowing and understanding the various terms is helpful when consulting with a certified arborist about the plant life at your Wilmington home. The following is a quick look at some of the more common terms you are likely to come across:

Pruning Basics

Pruning is used for three basic reasons:

     •   Train a young developing tree to take a desired form
     •   Direct the growth of a tree or limbs of the tree
     •   Maintain a mature tree’s desired size, form, appearance, and health

Several important pruning terms include:


Dead-wooding is the removal of dead, dying and low-vigor branches.

Heading Back

This technique removes a limb just above a lateral bud. The cut produces more growth, which may be desired to fill in a sparse area of a shrub or tree. Multiple new sprouts could be produced, so you will need to monitor for additional future trimming to maintain desired shape.

Lateral Branches

Lateral branches are secondary branches that stem from scaffold branches


The leader is the vertical stem at the top of the trunk.


This pruning cut occurs at the tip of a growing branch to encourage the plant to produce more leaves and stimulate more blooms.

Scaffold Branches

Scaffold branches are the main branches directly attached to the trunk of the tree.

Thinning Cuts or Thinning Out

Thinning cuts are used to either remove branches at their point of origin or shorten them or the leaders to a smaller size. Crown-thinning is the selective thinning of branches. The practice is used to increase light penetration and air movement through the crown of the tree. Thinning can also generally be done to open up a tree or shrub and preserve its shape.

Topping off

Tree topping is a pruning practice that is generally frowned upon and that a good certified arborist will advise against. A large branch/branches, generally at the top of a tree, is lopped off. Reasons homeowners might have for considering the practice include reducing the amount of shade a tree produces or preventing the tree from growing into power lines or other structures. Also known as hat racking, canopy reduction, and height reduction, this type of pruning strips away a tree’s food source and leaves a large type of ‘wound’ that opens the tree up to decay, insects, and disease.

Call Stein Tree for Professional Tree Trimming and Pruning in Wilmington, DE

For more information about tree trimming and pruning in Wilmington, DE, or to set up a tree care consultation with a certified arboristcontact us today. We also perform full-service tree and stump removal.




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