Small yards with big trees can feel cramped, dark and overpowered by lots of thick foliage. While the shade can be welcome, especially in urban neighborhoods without many green spaces, you might not want the shade to be your yard's defining factor. If you've considered removing the tree to open up your yard and make it feel more spacious, there is an option to try before you take that drastic step.

Tree crown thinning is an advanced trimming method that can scale down a tree and make it work better in a smaller space. Thinning consists of removing a percentage of the smaller branches throughout the tree's crown – it doesn't reduce the tree's height or width, but it makes the crown less dense.  There are three ways in which thinning a tree can make your yard appear bigger:

  • It creates more light. Because the branches are selectively removed from all areas of the crown, it creates more open spaces in the tree's canopy and lets more sunlight pass through. This can eliminate the large, overly-shaded areas in your yard that can feel closed in. Letting dappled rays of sunlight reach the formerly dark corners of the yard creates an illusion of more yard and a bigger, more open area.
  • It improves visibility. Thinning creates openings in the visual barrier of dense foliage and lets you see through the tree.  By extending your line of sight and letting you see what's on the other side of the tree, your yard will seem larger. 
  • It creates better aesthetics. Thinning the crown can make the tree appear smaller and more proportional to the size of the yard. Since there are fewer branches, there are also fewer leaves and less of the tree to compete with the other features of the yard. The improved proportions can make the yard appear more balanced and bigger in comparison to the tree.

Thinning must be done correctly in order to work and avoid harming the tree. Over-thinning, or removing too many branches, often makes the tree grow new sprouts and shoots near the cuts. If they grow vigorously, the crown can fill with greenery and reverse the benefits of thinning. If there is too much new growth, the tree draws too much energy from the roots to send to the branches, which can weaken the roots and make it unstable. If you want to enhance your yard but don't want to lose all the shade and privacy that your tree provides, ask a local tree service, such as Corner Landscaping & Tree Service, about tree crown thinning. They can determine the proper thinning percentage for the tree's condition, age and species to ensure that it stays healthy and stable.