I was dumbfounded. I saw it from the bus.
I take the bus to the Orchard in North Las Vegas up Decatur when I go there to teach or just volunteer. I got off the bus and walked over to this tree because it was sooo obvious.
What in the world was going through this person's head? A beautiful tree and its form butchered. The tree could have been pruned with fewer cuts and not so much to clean up after you were done. This will take years to correct by a competent, skilled tree worker.
Some say "arborist" but there are skilled arborists and unskilled
arborists. There are skilled tree workers and unskilled tree workers. There are skilled gardeners and unskilled gardeners. Some of the best tree work I have seen was done by an indvidual (now passed) many years ago who had no training (at the time) but was sensitive to the look and needs of the tree. He went on to become an excellent arborist. (Steve Hines where are you?)
Heading cuts. The cuts made at the very top are what I call "heading cuts". They were made anywhere along the length of a branch. When this is done we call this "topping" a tree. This is not a good idea for many reasons. From the looks of all that growth at the top, the tree has been topped at least one other previous year.
Pruning in the spring invigorates the tree. One heading cut results in three to four new stems growing from buds immediately beneath the cut. One cut branch now = 3-4 new branches that need cutting next year. When topping is done the new growth is prolific. This prolific growth shades the interior canopy resulting in death of branches inside where there is too much shade.
Thinning cuts. Cuts lower on major limbs on this tree were made with what I call "thinning cuts". Thinning cuts are made at a juncture of two limbs leaving one limb remaining. This type of cut should be made 95% of the time when we prune. Thinning cuts leave another branch to take the place of the one just removed. This helps decrease the amount of new growth we get from pruning. This type of cut helps retain the natural form of the tree.
Determine what you want the tree to do. What do we want from the tree? Is it to give shade? Will people walk under the tree? Does the tree need to be shrunken in size? What we expect from the tree dictates how we will prune the tree. Prune with a purpose in mind.
The right approach to pruning a tree like this is to start at the bottom and work up. Make sure the major limbs are necessary. If there are too many, you might consider removing a major limb at the very beginning. This is true particularly if there are just too many larger limbs, if they are crossing, broken or damaged.
If the tree needs to be shorter then identify the limbs that need to be lowered and follow them down inside the canopy to a place where you can make a "thinning cut". Lower the tree's height be identifying each of these limbs that are too tall and reduce their height with thinning cuts.
If the tree is growing toward a building or structure then remove limbs growing in that direction or that will interfere. Make the cuts using what kind of cut? That's right, a thinning cut, not a heading cut.
If we need to allow people or vehicles to pass under the tree identify the offending branch or branches and remove a portion of that limb with what kind of cut? That's right. A thinning cut.
So when do we make a heading cut? Not very often but when we do it is usually for three reasons: increase the density (more new growth; 1 cut=3 to 4 new branches) where the canopy is not dense enough, to add dimensional strength to a limb that is thin and spindly, to increase side branching to increase fruiting or flowering on trees that produce flowers/fruit on spurs.
A correctly pruned landscape tree should not appear to be pruned when it is completed and done right.