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Canopy thinning: what's really accomplished?

Thinning the canopy removes mostly small-diameter branches from the periphery of the canopy. Although research shows that this reduces the motion and drag on the canopy which should help preserve the tree in wind storms, the effect only lasts for a short period. Moreover, all portions of the tree simply grow back (see below) without a change in the aspect ratio of the main branches (See: details of aspect ratio). By contrast, structural pruning not only thins the canopy but also changes the aspect ratio resulting in stronger unions.

Before thinning

After thinning

4 months later

12 months later (Photos courtesy Brian Kempf)