Tree Pruning

Pruning is done for the following reasons:

  • Health – to remove dead or diseased limbs
  • Structure – to promote a sound tree by removing weakly attached and broken branches, as well as limbs that conflict with each other
  • Clearance – to allow for the clear flow of pedestrian and vehicular traffic
  • Future Growth – to “train” the tree to promote growth which will not conflict with the site

The pruning needs of a street tree are different than those of a park tree, or a tree growing in your yard. The biggest difference is the need for pruning lower limbs to provide clearance for vehicular traffic and to prevent tree damage. The lower limbs of street trees need to be raised to a minimum of 14 feet for residential streets and 16 feet for arterial streets. These guidelines reflect nationally accepted standards for street tree clearance. Limbs may be removed above these heights, as many branches have a point of origin higher in the tree that will droop down below acceptable clearance levels. While limb removal may appear excessive, please note that the appearance of a newly pruned tree is temporary and becomes less noticeable over time.

Tree pruning is performed by knowledgeable arborists certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). To qualify as a Certified Arborist, an individual must pass an examination covering a wide variety of topics dealing with tree anatomy, biology and proper maintenance techniques. To maintain certification, City arborists attend seminars sponsored by the Illinois Arborist Association and related professional organizations. The continuing education units received from such training and seminars ensure that City arborists keep abreast of new information in the field of arboriculture.

With the growing number of satellite dishes, the City has received requests to prune City trees to provide a clear signal. The City will not prune to promote satellite dish reception. If appropriate, the City may issue a permit whereby the homeowner can employ a certified arborist to prune City trees; however, the City may refuse a permit if it deems this pruning unacceptable.

For more information on tree pruning, go to and click on
“Tree Care Information.”


City of Champaign
Forestry Section
702 Edgebrook Drive
Champaign, IL 61820