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Canopy habit and form

Consider your design objectives, pruning budget, equipment, and crew capabilities before selecting a form of tree best suited for your streets. Although all trees need some pruning in the early years, the amount, type, timing, and technician skill level required often depend on tree habit and form. The pruning requirements of three major tree forms-upright, pyramidal, and rounded-are compared in the table below.

Advantages and disadvantages of planting trees with different canopy habits or forms

Tree Habit Advantages Disadvantages

• Little pruning required to remove drooping branches
• Trunk usually stays small or medium-sized


• Trees cast only a small amount of shade
• Major branches on some trees can develop weak included bark and split from tree
• Pruning occasionally needed to develop good branch structure


• Strong trunk and branch structure often develops with little or no pruning
• Lower branch removal can be performed by relatively unskilled labor
• Lower branches are small and create only a small wound when removed
• Trees cast a moderate amount of shade

• Lower branches often droop and need regular removal



• On young trees, fewer branches droop compared to pyramidal trees
• Trees cast abundant shade


• Highly skilled pruning crews needed
• Regular pruning needed to develop strong structure
• Branches that eventually droop, requiring removal, often are large and leave a large wound