This self seeded sycamore is blocking the afternoon sun from where I am proposing to build a small house.

View from the east:


And view from the north east:

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It's really only the lower half of the branches that's shading and I'm wondering if I can ask the arborist to just remove the lower half branches instead of taking down the whole tree.

Also it seems to split into two main stems if that makes a difference.

View from the south: two main stems

2 Answers 2


pruning Graham's sycamoreGraham I wouldn't remove half at one time. Definitely needs to be thinned to allow the wind to go through the canopy without being able to pull the tree over. You will always have light shade with this tree. Which is preferable to heavy shade.

If you could look at these branches coming from the main trunk, the branches to remove will have diameters drastically different to the diameter of the trunk. Your truck is what? Say 10"? The branches that are less than 5" in diameter; 2 or 3" that are redundant meaning there are more than one branch in the same vicinity should be removed from the trunk. You need to see big holes in the canopy. Where are your normal winds coming from?

This is a start. Learning to use this new application. your sycamore

More pictures I could draw more 'cuts'...the ones I marked might not be all necessary to do...such as all 3 of the cuts on the left. I need to see a bigger picture. But do you see the size of the branches in relation to the size of the trunk? Most all branches will be removed from the trunk. Otherwise you'll promote more growth, density.

This one is tough to see. I hope that this helps you see what needs to go...a little anyway. Doesn't matter the view, what matters is that your canopy is not lopsided and not pruned too quickly. Once you get started you'll see the pattern of what branches need to go and which ones absolutely have to stay.

This last one maybe I need to make the orange 'cuts' thinner. Ugh. More pictures, closeups as well as full views of your tree. Graham, are you planning on doing this work? Got insurance, great medical? Grins...you are working with an arborist? I am better than most at pruning but this is one big tree. I would love to help save it, more pictures. More orange 'cuts'...? Where is your home going to be built in relation to this tree...heck on your site?

  • Predominant air flow over the country is westerly and I'm looking towards the west in the first image. Jan 16, 2018 at 0:14
  • Now just send photos from every direction. One of those 3 branches on the left side of that picture should probably remain. Once the tree gets more thinning the lower too small in diameter branches will be able to make a difference in photosynthesis and the diameter of the branch will enlarge, indicating that branch's photosynthesis has become substantial enough to send lots more energy TO that branch to support, thicken and promote that branch's contribution to the plant's food and energy sources. How are you planning to get up there? This looks like a great job for licensed professionals.
    – stormy
    Jan 16, 2018 at 0:47
  • You are working with an arborist? Why are they saying to take the entire tree down?
    – stormy
    Jan 16, 2018 at 0:48
  • I just asked for a quote on taking the tree down. They removed lower branches for me before but not enough. Now I'm wondering if I can just remove more and save the tree if I can get out of its shading. Jan 16, 2018 at 2:38
  • Added a view from the north-east. It's on a corner of the property so those are the only views I can take. If I wait later in the day I will be able to take a picture of where it crosses the sun's path. Jan 16, 2018 at 2:55

If it has to be done, then thin the crown to allow more light in, then shorten most of the outer crown to two thirds of their original length all over, effectively giving it a massive trim or hair cut- should take half a day and look fairly clean- the tree should respond with quite a lot of lateral shoot growth in the first year that might need thinning again in the following late summer. The whole pruning project should be attempted in late summer to avoid infectious elements getting into the open cuts during the winter (no later than August for a tree of this size), thus ripening the ends before the bad weather sets in. I wouldn't do in spring as this would lead to open wounds that will bleed and go quite nasty. Usual rules apply for all pruning-use the three D's at all times(dead, diseased and damaged) anything rubbing, crossing inwards, weak or overly cluttered. I would use a very sharp chainsaw for anything over an inch and a half thick, the rest can be lopped out or sawn off by hand. Also as an extra note I would shorten the tree too I would remove possibly a quarter of the height to balance the finished appearance of the final look, making it look almost lollipop shaped- and if necessary raise the lower crown- although it might be a bit too much for the first years trim.
Or you hire someone how knows what their doing? (make sure they have insurance!)

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