Tree Pruning Brisbane

Please don’t top trees! Prune instead!

Topping is perhaps the most harmful arborcultural practice known. Despite more than twenty-five years of articles and seminars explaining its harmful effects, topping remains a common practice throughout QLD. Please be aware that topping can greatly shorten the life of your trees. The large wounds made from topping allow disease and decay organisms an easy route by which to attack your tree.

Topping generally makes your trees ugly and that can reduce your property value.

Over time, more often, it is cheaper to prune and shape your trees than to top them!

We, as your arborist, can determine the type of pruning necessary to maintain or improve the health, appearance, and safety of trees.

These techniques include:

  • Eliminating branches that rub on each other
  • Removing limbs that interfere with wires, building facades, gutters, roofs, chimneys, or windows, or that obstruct streets or footpaths
  • Removing dead or weak limbs that pose a hazard or may lead to decay
  • Removing diseased or insect-infested limbs
  • Creating better structure to lessen wind resistance and reduce the potential for storm damage
  • Training young trees to grow structurally strong and look aesthetically the best they can
  • Removing limbs damaged by adverse weather conditions
  • Removing branches, or thinning, to increase light penetration
  • Improving the shape or silhouette of the tree

Tree Topping

Please don’t ask us to top your tree as our reply may offend you.

Please read below for further information regarding your particular trees circumstances. Or, please contact us for advice on what to do with your past topped trees. We are here to help you and your trees.

Topping unfortunately is still commonly carried out, mostly by cowboys, tree companies willing to cut anything for money or tree owners that don’t have any idea or have received bad advice from others. This bad practice is a risk to the tree, property, and the public. If the tree was to fail, in some way, after incorrect pruning was carried out then legal issues can arise and fall back onto both the tree company and the tree owner.

Remember to remove the risk of legal issues that could relate to a failure of a tree because of incorrect pruning techniques then, you need to always get work done by qualified professionals that follow the current  Australian  Standards for Pruning of amenity trees. Reasons why we get asked to top trees is usually because of things like, bad plant choices, new buildings, or renovations, lack of space or light, lack of pro-active maintenance, neglect, or just too busy to understand the damage caused to a tree once topped. Carelessness in this area could lead to a insurance claim refusal if the tree failed due to incorrect pruning. We do understand that in the past this practice was acceptable however the understanding of trees since then has increased dramatically. Remember the “TOPPING” practice is not to be confused with proper pruning.

Note: Tree topping – is the act of removing or cutting back of large branches in mature trees, leaving large, open wounds which fall subject to disease and decay.

The Difference between Topping and Pollarding 

The difference between topping and pollarding (as in proper pollarding) is that the branches cut are never more than one-to-two years old. In topping, much older and larger branches are cut. Only a few varieties of trees tolerate pollarding as a management method.

We will generally NOT comply with the request to top trees, since the end result will be damages and possible loss of limb or life in the future, however we have come across the odd occasion with particular species, in particular locations, that it was the only option. This has been carried out always by seeking a second opinion from an independent arborist. Other than complete removal.

It should be noted some insurance companies can refuse a claim if it is proven the cause of a tree failure can be related to incorrect pruning techniques (topping). Do you want to take this risk?

Generally, TOPPED TREES will not add value to your property and can start the tree on a downward health spiral. In most cases topped trees require more maintenance to reduce the increased risk of storm damage. It can be an accident waiting to happen!

General Pruning

Pruning is a horticultural practice involving the selective removal of parts of a tree, such as branches and roots.

Pruning at regular intervals will promote good tree health and enhance the appearance of your property.

Reasons for Pruning are:

  • Appearance

If you take pride in the appearance of your yard and property, the most obvious reason for pruning a tree is to reshape it so that it is more attractive. Every year trees grow, producing longer or additional branches. We have the knowledge, skills and tools to properly cut back and remove branches to improve the appearance of the trees in your property.

  • Structure

More importantly than appearance of a tree is its structure. We can analyze a tree and determine what should be removed to keep a tree strong and stable. Structurally unsound trees not only cause damage to themselves, but can cause thousands of dollars damage to buildings, cars, other trees and plants and sometimes cause injury to people. Having a tree professionally pruned or thinned by an arborist minimizes the risk of damage.

  • Health

One of the most important reasons to have Arborforce Tree Service maintain your trees for you is that we are knowledgable about the signs of an ailing tree. Our training allows us to recognize when an area of a tree is infested with insects or is dying and rotting, posing a potential health hazard to you and your property. We can prune away broken or diseased branches and thin branches to maintain a healthy structure avoiding damage or destruction of the tree. And, if the insect damage or rot should be too extensive, we can advise you to remove the tree to prevent damage or injury to people, pets or property. At no means are you obligated to use us, if we advise you that your tree needs to be removed. It is always good practice to get multiple quotes, if time allows.

  • Safety

Most home or property owners do not have the tools, ladders or lifts to effectively and safely prune or thin their own trees and put themselves at risk in trying to maintain their own trees. We have the equipment to do the job safely and effectively.

Note: You need to remember certain types of pruning on certain types of trees will dramatically increase flowers, fruit, and general growth, while other types of pruning can do the exact opposite, this needs to be discussed with your arborist.

Formative Pruning
Crown Cleaning
Crown Lifting
Crown Reduction
Crown Thinning
Pollarding, not topping
Limb Removal
View Clearing
Hedge & Shrub Re-shaping
Hedge Reductions



Please remember many trees have some form of tree protection on them. If your tree is protected then there is a good reason for it. Protections placed on trees or properties by authorities are not just slapped on; a large amount of research is needed before the protection gets put into place. However, it has been observed many times that all the information does not always get to the tree or property owner so unfortunately at times the owners either don’t understand the protection or worse don’t even know there is a protection in place. There are many different types of protections and they can carry different restrictions as to what can be done to a tree. We can help you here; we can sit down and explain it all to you in simple and quick terms.

Some services on trees do not require a formal application to the Local council. It is advisable however to check with the Local Authority in order to avoid misunderstanding.

It is the tree owner’s responsibility to ensure they know if their trees are protected.

We can conduct the enquiry on your behalf to ensure total compliance with any Tree Protection Order.

We work alongside various councils to uphold the rules and constraints of the trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order and trees in conservation areas.

Formative pruning (TREE FORMING)

Tree forming is where we carry out selective pruning to a juvenile tree to achieve a perfect balance and create a personally designed tree to suit your yard and you.

Tree forming is best done early to take control of your tree at stages of development. This helps to shape the tree as it grows into maturity.

Formative pruning affects the spacing, orientation, shape and size of branches as the tree matures.

Carrying out early Formative pruning means you don’t need to prune heavily in future.

It is therefore preferable to make any necessary formative structural pruning cuts to young plants, when possible, rather than removing large, poorly placed branches from mature plants.

Crown Cleaning

Crown cleaning involves the removal of dead, dying and dangerous wood for health and safety reasons.

As a tree grows it is natural for some branches to die back.

This can be caused by branches that do not produce enough carbohydrates from photosynthesis, trees general health, and age.

Dead-wooding – removing the dead wood to prevent damage below and to the tree as a source of infection for pathogens.

Remember, for safety reasons, it is the tree owner’s responsibility to have your tree regularly inspected and cleared of any deadwood.

Crown Lifting

This is where we remove selected branches and limbs from the lower part of the tree’s crown. This raises the crowns overall height.

Crown lifting is generally carried out for the following reasons:-

• To allow people, and or vehicles to pass safely underneath, (Sometimes to comply with council regulations over footpaths and roads clearance requirements).

• To open up lower space in trees to create a large open area which increases draft (and can mean less mozzies waiting for you).

• To allow work access under the tree.

• To increase light levels under the tree for the growth of other plants or allow more light into surrounding structures.

• For aesthetic reasons – to remove an eye level screen.

Crown Reductions

This is where we reduce the size of the tree’s overall canopy, to make the crown smaller without spoiling the shape. This is achieved by pruning the branches evenly throughout the crown.

Please note that this is a drastic pruning method, only appropriate with some species, It is not work which can be regularly repeated without harming the health of the tree. This type of work is the most difficult kind of pruning to do properly and must be carried out by cutting back to a side bud or branch to achieve a natural appearance without leaving stumps (which can die back and cause infection).

This is a great time to take the opportunity to remove crossing branches, deadwood, diseased, damaged, non-productive, and any structurally unsound wood.

We can reduce a crown to best suit the tree and/or property, or carryout detailed specifications such as clearances needed of other structures around the tree or certain percentages of overall tree dimensions.

Crown reductions are generally carried out for:-

• Preventative tree damage to buildings or power lines.

• Enhancing aesthetic value of the tree.

• Help to correct balance issues.

• Preventing later damage to the tree.

• Correcting trees after storm damage and reduce weight of unsafe branches.

• Keeping the tree under control.

 Crown Thinning

Crown Thinning involves the selective removal of inner branches evenly throughout the tree’s crown.

This is an effective method of allowing light to travel through the crown and allows air to circulate more effectively throughout the canopy without altering the tree’s natural shape.

Thinning often produces short lived results, particularly in the case of young vigorous species which may produce masses of dense re-growth in subsequent years. This work may be carried out to:-

• Improves health of remaining branches.

• Protect the main branches from damage.

• Reduce weight of the crown.

• Allow more light to pass through the crown.

• Reduce wind resistance and increase stability.

• Reduce water demand after root damage has occurred.

• Take the opportunity to remove crossing branches, deadwood, diseased, damaged, non-productive, and any structurally unsound wood.

• Maintain and generally improve on the aesthetic value of the tree.


Pollarding over the years has found its way into the practice of arboriculture. This can sometimes be incorrectly referred to as ‘lopping or topping’. Pollarding is a poorly understood arboricultural technique that has long been confused with topping in the Queensland community.

Reasons for pollarding

Preventing trees and shrubs from outgrowing their allotted space, reducing the excessive shade caused by a tree in certain areas and it may be necessary on street trees to prevent service wires, poles, and streetlights being obstructed.

Pollarding does not work well on all species of trees, in fact, only a select few have the ability to thrive from it.

Although “topping” a tree can be a “death blow” to the tree’s health, pollarding a tree can be successfully done to a select few, most commonly our fruit trees.

The process involves the removal of all branches, and most limbs, resulting in the remainder of only the trunk and occasionally a framework of the major limbs allowing new branches to sprout from the cuts.

This process somehow became popular many years ago as a way to control our larger trees.

There are very few circumstances we recommend this practices, and if we do, then it is usually on ornamental trees, fruit trees, and dead habitat trees. Once a tree has been pollarded then this process ideally needs to be done every one to two years for the rest of the trees life.

If a large tree has been pollarded in the past, then the re-growth will need to be kept under control as structural issues can arise. Not properly maintained pollarded trees will become potentially hazardous in two ways:-

1. Large pollarding cuts may allow decay fungi to enter the tree which will in time impact on the trees structural integrity, which can cause further complications.

2. Trees with weaker wood prone to producing multiple shoots often have weakly-attached branches that can break off both with and without the help of wind and fall. These branches over time do become heavy when pollarding maintenance lapses so if tree has been pollarded in the past then it needs to be done again and again for the rest of the trees life.


If you are still confused between pollarding and topping please see “topping”.

Limb Removal

Sometimes, it is necessary to remove certain branches of a tree’s crown without fully reducing, thinning or lifting the crown.

Reasons for limb removal are:-

• crossing branches,

• diseased, decayed,

• damaged, dead,

• non-productive,

• structurally unsound wood.

• Or, even if a large branch or number of branches have travelled over a boundary or restricted area. (This process generally involves removing as little live growth as possible to ensure the health and stability of the tree.)

 View clearing

As you know, all great landscape views are framed by trees. When the landscape is perfect everything seems to be drawn to scale but the problem is trees keep growing so this means there is a need for view clearing.

When we carry out view clearing, we take into account both the tree and the customer’s needs. However if the tree was to suffer, we would work with the customer to come up with alternative solutions. The tree always comes first.

Our aim is to create fresh unobstructed views while keeping the trees growing in a healthy and aesthetically attractive manner.

Hedge & Shrub Re-shaping

Formal shaping of hedges has been a tradition for many years and with continued trimming we can achieve some very interesting shapes.

To the most part, we shape hedges to a “square” or “ball” profile but we can obviously tailor to your needs given time and repeat trimming and shaping.

Hedge Reductions

Hedge reduction is a process that is a more drastic process than simply hedge trimming. In some cases, a hedge may have over grown due to neglect or long periods without trimming. The hedge therefore needs to be reduced in height or width (or both) but doing so can be detrimental to the hedge. Careful assessment of the hedge is needed to determine how to reduce it without causing too much stress which can lead to decay and/or pest problems.

Property perimeter Maintenance

(Generally rental and commercial properties)

We can carry out maintenance on garden borders and provide a high quality service. We can de-weed the borders using environmentally and animal safe weed killers.

Formative and general Pruning of trees and shrubs correctly to minimize tree trespassing onto neighbouring properties or footpaths. We can tidy up the edges of lawns to maximize the effect of the border and lay chippings to the correct depth to suppress the re-growth of weeds. (We don’t do lawn mowing but we can suggest local businesses that may be able to help you).

Responsibilities of the tree owner concerning neighbours are:

• Cutting and removing any branches of the tree which overhangs a neighbours land, VPO’s excluded.

• Ensuring that a tree does not cause serious injury to a person on the neighbours land,

• Serious damage to a neighbour’s property, or

• unreasonable interference with a person’s use and enjoyment of their land.

The laws recognize this and focus upon the concept of ‘reasonably foreseeable’ incidents. In commissioning a report you can fulfil part of your duty of care under the Occupier’s Liability Acts.

For more details please visit


Tree Trimming Service Brisbane

Trees that receive appropriate pruning when they are young will require little corrective pruning later.