Brisbane arborist tips: What is formative pruning?

Professional Brisbane arborists recognise that formative pruning is sometimes required to help a tree grow into a balanced shape with a strong single trunk and a canopy of healthy branches. It is often carried out to ensure that branches grow above a certain height, to create an aesthetically pleasing tree or to encourage heavy cropping of fruit trees.

When is formative pruning performed?

Formative pruning is usually commenced on trees that are least one year old and sometimes at least three years old or more and can take up to four or five years to complete. It is best to prune evergreen trees or fruit trees when they start to grow each year in the spring and deciduous trees during winter.

It is always good for arborists in Brisbane to know the reasons for the formative pruning, because this can alter the height at which you want the first branches to grow. For example, if you want machinery or vehicles to pass easily underneath the branches, then the trunk will need to be a certain height before branches are allowed to grow.

Pruning trees like this needs to be performed by a qualified arborist in Brisbane, because the tree needs to be kept structurally safe and healthy. Another good reason to engage a Brisbane arborist is because you want a number of trees to all look the same, which takes skill and a certain amount of creative talent to accomplish.

Tips on performing formative pruning

These tips are as a general guide only and will depend on the type of tree and the purpose of the formative pruning:

  • The earlier you prune your tree, the better it will heal and recover without stressing the tree.
  • Early formative pruning will minimize the amount of pruning you will need to do when the tree matures.
  • Poor pruning can seriously harm the health of a tree and the scars will forever be clearly visible on the tree.
  • Never remove just part of a branch, but remove the entire branch right up to the trunk.
  • Each year, remove all of the branches in the lower one third of the trunk.
  • Continue doing this until the trunk is the desired height, removing cross branches or misplaced branches every year as well.

There is a lot more to formative pruning, which is why your best option is to call an arborist in Brisbane to make sure that your tree is kept healthy and grows correctly. Simply calling in a tree lopper in Brisbane rather than a qualified arborist can result in a poorly pruned or misshapen tree that is not structurally sound or healthy.

So if you have a tree that needs formative pruning and you need a qualified Brisbane arborist, call us on 07 3999 9851, email us at or complete our online enquiry form.