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As a professional Arboricultural company we are regularly asked many diverse questions in relation to trees and bushes, from planting, pruning, disease and storm damage through to their final removal. Below are a number of terms and processes (as per industry best practices) that may have to be looked at prior to and during any work being carried out. Please contact us if you have any questions that are not answered here, we are always happy to talk you through the work that we are suggesting.

Tree pruning may be necessary to ensure a tree stays in a safe condition – to remove specific branches or stems to benefit the whole tree, to remove dead branches, to promote growth, to regulate size and shape or to improve the quality of flowers, fruit or timber. Improper pruning may lead to trees becoming unsightly, diseased and/or potentially dangerous.

Adaptive growth

An increase in wood production in localised areas in response to a decrease in wood strength or external loading to maintain an even distribution of forces across the structure.

Adventitious/epicormic growth

New growth arising from dormant or new buds directly from main branches/stems or trunks.


Bracing is a term used to describe the installation of cables, ropes and/or belts to reduce the probability of failure of one or more parts of the tree structure due to weakened elements under excessive movement.

Branch bark ridge and collar

Natural features of a fork or union that may or may not be visually obvious. Neither the branch bark ridge nor collar should be cut.


Undifferentiated tissue initiated as a result of wounding and which become specialised tissues of the repair over time.


A void within the solid structure of the tree, normally associated with decay or deterioration of the woody tissues. May be dry or hold water, if the latter it should not be drained. Only soft decomposing tissue should be removed if necessary to assess the extent. No attempt should be made to cut or expose living tissue.

Co-dominant stems

Two or more, generally upright, stems of roughly equal size and vigour competing with each other for dominance. Where these arise from a common union the structural integrity of that union should be assessed.


The cutting down of a tree within 300mm (12in) of the ground at regular intervals, traditionally applied to certain species such as Hazel and Sweet Chestnut to provide stakes etc.


The foliage bearing section of the tree formed by its branches and not including any clear stem/trunk.

Crown Lifting and Crown Thinning

Crown lifting removes the lowest branches, or sections of the lowest branches, to give a uniform height from ground level. Trees are often crown lifted to increase light levels, improve views and give greater access for vehicles.

Crown thinning can improve light levels and the amount of shade cast by the tree.


Non-living branches or stems due to natural ageing or external influences. Deadwood provides essential habitats and its management should aim to leave as much as possible, shortening or removing only those that pose a risk. Durability and retention of deadwood will vary by tree species.


When a tree exhibits signs of a lack of vitality such as reduced leaf size, colour or density.


Tips of branches exhibit no signs of life due to age or external influences. Decline may progress, stabilise or reverse as the tree adapts to its new situation.


The inactive condition of a tree, usually during the coldest months of the year when there is little or no growth and leaves of deciduous trees have been shed.

Drop Crotching

Shortening branches by pruning off the end back to a lateral branch which is at least 1/3 of the diameter of the removed branch.


The application of a substance, usually to the tree’s rooting area (and occasionally to the tree), to promote tree growth or reverse or reduce decline. This will only be effective if nutrient deficiency is confirmed. If decline is the result of other factors such as compaction, physical damage, toxins etc., the application of fertiliser will not make any difference.

Formative pruning

Minor pruning during the early years of a tree’s growth to establish the desired form and/or to correct defects or weaknesses that may affect structure in later life.

Fungi/Fruiting bodies

A member of the plant kingdom that may colonise living or dead tissues of a tree or form beneficial relationships with the roots. The fruiting body is the spore bearing, reproductive structure of that fungus. Removal of the fruiting body will not prevent further colonisation and will make diagnosis and prognosis harder to determine. Each colonisation must be considered in detail by a competent person to determine the long term implications of tree health and structure when considered alongside the tree species, site usage etc.

Good Rigging Control System (GRCS)

GRCSA Good Rigging Control System (GRCS) is a tool for working with large timber. The winch attaches to the trunk and helps lower heavy wood with control and safety.

Lopping and Topping

Generally regarded as outdated terminology but still included as part of Planning legislation. Lopping refers to the removal of large side branches (the making of vertical cuts) and topping refers to the removal of large portions of the crown of the tree (the making of horizontal cuts, generally through the main stems). Often used to describe crude, heavy-handed or inappropriate pruning.

Mobile Elevating Work Platform (MEWP)
A Mobile Elevating Work Platform‘ is a mobile machine which consists as a minimum of a work platform with controls, an extending structure and chassis; that is intended for work at height.
Painting and Sealing

Covering pruning cuts or other wounds with a paint, often bitumen based. Research has demonstrated that this is not beneficial and may in fact be harmful. On no account should timber treatments be used as these are definitely harmful to living cells.


Pollarding is the removal of all branches from the trunk to leave a standing pole.

Re- pollarding is the removal of all new growth on a tree that has been previously been pollarded. Pollarding is common practice for trees in an urban environment such as street trees.

Once started, it should be repeated on a cyclical basis always retaining the initial pollard point, or bolling as it becomes known.

Retrenchment pruning

A form of reduction intended to encourage development of lower shoots and emulate the natural process of tree aging.

Root pruning

The pruning back of roots (similar to the pruning back of branches). This has the ability to affect tree stability so it is advisable to seek professional advice prior to attempting root pruning.

Stump Grinding

If you have an unwanted tree stump in your garden or want a tree completely removed. Stumps are ground into chips to a specific depth below the existing soil level using a specialised stump grinding machine. The stump grinder reduces the tree stump to a pile of wood chips mixed with the soil which can be left at the site of the tree/stump.

Tree Preservation Order (TPO)

TPOs are administered by Local Planning Authorities and are in place to protect trees that bring significant benefit to the local area. This protection is particularly important where trees are under threat. All types of tree can be protected and a TPO can protect anything from a single tree to all trees within a defined area or woodland. TPOs cannot be placed on hedges, bushes or shrubs. Please follow the link below to understand more about TPOs.



The degree of physiological and biochemical processes (life functions) within an individual, group or population of trees.