Client Testimonials

"Howard Gaffin is an expert in his field. He is a top notch arborist and is also willing to listen to the land-owner's desires and is able to cooperate to achieve mutually satisfactory results."

N. Grigg
- Boxford, MA


First rule: Do no harm. Tree pruning practices and techniques will vary depending on the age, location, and condition of the tree. As a general rule, young trees may require a fair amount of live growth removed over time to achieve proper form. Older trees should only have dead, diseased or hazardous limbs removed. This type of work is best performed by certified arborists to ensure proper pruning techniques are employed. We follow pruning guidelines as set forth by ANSI regulations.

Fruit Tree Pruning

Many people have small home orchards or ornamental fruit trees. Pruning styles will vary depending upon the clients goals, whether it’s fruit production, aesthetic form, or something in between.

Pruning ornamental fruit treesPruning ornamental fruit trees. Pruned peach trees.
Apple TreeApple tree

Guys in Trees

While we prefer the aerial lift, sometimes climbing is the only practical way to access the tree.

Pruning a sugar maplePruning a sugar maple.
Setting a line in an old oakSetting a line in an old oak.

Mature Tree Pruning

Great care should be taken when pruning mature trees, large and small. A fine balance between roots and crown has been achieved over a tree's lifetime. Removal of large, live limbs can upset this balance, stress the system and initiate a spiral of decline. Mature tree pruning should be limited to dead, broken and diseased limbs, also known as “crown cleaning”. Any inner branches or foliage should be retained. When there are safety concerns, other treatments such as reduction pruning may be considered before whole limb removal.


Crown Cleaning

Removal of dead, broken and diseased parts of the tree.

Removing dead oak stubRemoving dead oak stub. Finishing the cutFinishing the cut.
Specimen copper beech. Beech trees are especially sensitive to wounding. Any pruning should be judiciously doneBeech trees are especially sensitive to wounding. Any pruning should be judiciously done.


Reduction Pruning

It’s a tight squeeze, but we managed to maneuver the bucket truck into position to perform a crown reduction on this red maple. This tree had many defects in the trunk. Rather than removal, the homeowner opted to abate some of the risk by reducing height and therefore create a stouter tree, less influenced by environmental forces.

A tight squeeze for our bucket truck to perform an crown reduction on a red maple treeA tight squeeze for our bucket truck to perform an crown reduction on a red maple tree.
Red maple reductionRed maple reduction.


Willow Re-birth

This old weeping willow had issues with a dying crown and compromised trunk and root system. The homeowners really liked the tree, especially the cool trunk, but were uncomfortable with the risk. A somewhat unorthodox approach was discussed and agreed upon. Being a willow tree, it was a good candidate for a severe heading back. Large scaffold limbs were removed back to areas of inner growth, or where the potential for new growth existed. The risk is removed, yet the tree is retained. For more, read the "Willow Top" story in the blog section.

Weeping willow with a dying crown and compromised trunk.Weeping willow with a dying crown and compromised trunk.
The tree two growing seasons laterThe tree two growing seasons later.

Shrub Pruning

Shrubs are but small trees, and many of the same principals apply. Proper dose and timing are important to produce healthy, attractive plants.

Wisteria after pruningWisteria after pruning. Wisteria in bloomWisteria in bloom.
Flaming EnkianthusFlaming Enkianthus. Smokebush in bloomSmokebush in bloom.

Young Tree Pruning

Proper or improper pruning of young trees play an essential role in their future. Defective and competing limbs are removed in a timely fashion over a period of years. Proper pruning will help ensure a structurally sound, aesthetically pleasing tree.


Structural Pruning

The young red maple on the left had three competing limbs forming the top of the tree. One was removed and the other reduced to keep a strong central leader. The copper beech was pruned early in life to achieve good form.

Young red maple after pruning.Young red maple after pruning.
Nicely formed beechNicely formed beech.



This juvenile sugar maple was thinned to remove dead, diseased, and competing limbs. Clockwise from top, left: Before, during and after thinning

Juvenile sugar maple before pruning  Juvenile sugar maple after pruning 
Juvenile sugar maple pruned to remove dead, diseased, and competing limbs  Juvenile sugar maple pruned to remove dead, diseased, and competing limbs