Damage to buildings from trees can be prevented by pruning. 99% of water taken up by roots is lost through the leaves as evapotranspiration. Research and experience tells us that controlling the amount of leaf area will reduce the sphere of influence that the tree has a soil drying. In this way it can reduce the variations in soil movement of clay soils and thereby reduce the risk of damage to nearby buildings.

Maintenance of trees or woody vegetation by pruning to control shrink/swell movement involves a commitment to an ongoing regular treatment of the tree. As an owner of a tree it will be necessary to consider the following factors before embarking on such a programme.

  • The cost of frequent treatment versus building damage repair costs.
  • The enjoyment provided by the tree after such pruning.
  • The viability of alterative options, such as replanting.
  • Whether subsequent pruning is likely to be implemented or can be enforced.
Expert advice should always be sought but pruning can be carried out by:
  • Crown thinning - this can make the tree unnaturally sparse and is generally less effective than
  • Crown reduction - this retains more of the natural appearance after treatment and requires less frequency.
  • Pollarding - the most extreme form of reduction; in urban areas it is the most effective method of control but may be inappropriate in a garden context as it can be aesthetically offensive.
Pruning should always be carried out by experts with the appropriate experience to a specification in accordance with B.S.33998 - 1989 Tree Work. In this way the amount of removal can be verified.

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