Can a tree that has grown too big be cut back?

Can a tree that has grown too big be cut back?

Official approval often required before shortening

Even in your own garden, trees cannot simply be cut down or shortened. The tree protection statutes that are valid in many communities often stipulate in detail whether, when and how trees and even large hedges can be cut back. In particular, large and old trees are considered worthy of protection, with the specifically measured size being an important criterion for obtaining a permit. However, very different limit values ​​apply depending on the city or municipality. Very old trees even fall under the protection of monuments.

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Don't just cut trees - this is how shortening works

If the tree has grown too big, you should not simply cut it, even with official approval: Conifers in particular resent such an approach, especially since they do not sprout from old wood and therefore the top will always be missing. But even deciduous trees react to the top being clipped by developing numerous shoots that reach vertically upwards - and can also develop problems with the roots. Since trees always strive to keep the relationship between the roots and the crown in a balanced relationship, a simple cut often results in root death. These begin to rot and, with bad luck, can cause the tree to gradually die off.

How to shrink a tree top

Instead of capping the top of the tree, however, you can carefully shrink the top of the tree. Proceed as follows:

  • Thin out the crown by cutting out intersecting and inward-growing shoots.
  • Now reduce the size of the tree crown by always removing the branches growing under a branching branch.
  • The expert calls this “derive”.
  • Shorten the crown evenly to keep the tree's natural appearance.

Please note, however, that any cutting measures always result in the tree sprouting more intensely!


If, on the other hand, the tree crown is to be narrowed, only cut back the lower side shoots.