If you're looking to take a healthy tree down out of your yard – Stop! If the reason for removing the tree is simply because the tree is blocking too much sun from reaching the vegetation below, you may not need to completely eliminate the gorgeous piece of nature. It's possible that the tree could be laced, rather than removed.
What is tree lacing?
Tree lacing is the practice of trimming the branches of the tree to allow more sunlight to shine through. When done right, the tree will resemble lace as you look up through it. Removing some of those thick branches and leaves will allow the sunlight and fresh air to flow through and provide the vegetation below the nutrients they need to thrive.
How is a tree laced?
Tree lacing isn't that difficult. You simply need a ladder, hand pruner, pole pruner and a good eye.
Start by examining the tree from all angles. Look for branches that can be removed without distorting the natural shape of the tree. If you are hesitant to make the first cut, you can take some ribbons and tie them on the branches that you want to remove prior to removing them and looking from the ground to see what things will look like when you're done.
Once you know what branches you want to remove, start removing the dead branches from the tree. Proper removal requires wedge to be cut on the underside of the branch roughly 4 inches away from the trunk. Then, make a wedge cut on the top of the branch about an inch further away from the trunk cutting back towards the first wedge. This will allow the branch to fall without stripping any bark or splintering.
After the dead branches are gone, it's time to look for branches that shoot out from the trunk in the shape of a "V". These are the branches that can cause weight problems for the tree in the future. Use the same method of wedging as you did the dead branches to remove one of the two branches at the point where they join.
If you haven't cleared enough branches to allow the light and air to flow through, look for branches that are growing very closely together. Thin those branches out and take another look to see your progress.
If you don't feel comfortable taking on a task such as this, talk with your local tree removal and pruning specialists for help.