Topping Trees…Is it a good decision?
The short answer is NO! You could say this is one of the most harmful, yet common practices known. There is about 25 to 30 years of literature written on this common mistake explaining the harm effects that could envelop the tree, yet many continue to top trees, or request us to top trees.
Simply put , if the tree survives topping, it will grow back weaker than before.
Now for the rest of the story.
We at TreeCrews.com spend time getting educated and educating you with research like this. That’s why we use the methods we do to keep your trees safe and healthy. Remember it’s how we do your tree work that is different. Think about it. If you cut your finger nails its not the same as if you cut off your head! Think about the advice you are given by a tree service. Just because a tree service is in business does not mean they know anything about trees. Sorry.
First let me define what it means to top a tree.
When topping a tree large branches are removed from the top of a trees canopy. The tree service removes an excessive amount of live wood from a tree with no consideration for the structure of the tree. Most of the time the uneducated tree service cuts the whole top off.
Most tree topping is done to reduce the size of the tree. Our tree service finds most homeowners reason that their trees have outgrown their property. The larger they get, the more frightening the tree becomes to the homeowner. They reason this way, in order to reduce the perceived tree hazard they should top the tree, however, this is not a viable solution for height reduction, nor does it reduce the hazard. The simple fact is, in the long run topping the tree will make a tree more hazardous.
Stressed caused by Topping your Tree
When topping the tree usually 50 to 100 percent of the leaf bearing crown is removed. This can temporarily starve the tree because the leaf are the food factories of a tree. When trees are severely pruned ,this can trigger the tree into survival mode. The tree will start getting buds, and will force the rapid growth of multiple shoots below each cut. The tree will work to put out a new set of leaves as quickly as possible. At times the tree may not have the energy stored that it needs to produce the new leaves and can weaken and die.
A tree that becomes stressed and have large open wounds are more susceptible to disease and insect infestations. The tree can lack sufficient energy to chemically defend the woulds against invasion, and in some cases insects can be attracted to the chemical signals released by the tree. In some cases the tree emits a chemical in the air that attracts killing bugs like blood in the water to sharks.
Topping your trees can cause decay
The best area to begin a pruning cut is just below the branch collar at the point of attachment. Trees are biologically able to close this type of wound as long as the tree is healthy enough and the wound is not to large. The reason, because there is a different cell structure at that point on the branch. If you were to make a cut along a limb between lateral branches this would create stubs with wounds. The tree may not be able to heal this type of wound. If the wound cannot close, then the exposed wood tissues begins to decay. When trees are cut properly the can compartmentalize the decaying tissue, but if there are multiple severe wounds, such as when topping a tree, the tree can begin to decay and move through the branches.
Topping Destroys the beauty of your tree.
If you have ever seen a tree that has been topped, you can see how it looses its beauty. There is nothing beautiful about a topped tree. Topping trees destroys the natural shape and beauty of the tree. A tree properly pruned has grace and beauty, and a tree that has been topped will never gain back its natural beauty. Topped trees can bring down the value of your property, however a healthy well maintained tree can add value to your property. Topped trees are also hazardous because the are prone to breaking. The tree to the right even has torn sections that are not trimmed correctly showing that the tree service understood little more than how to start the chainsaw.
The added expense of topping your trees.
The cost of topping trees does not end once the tree has been topped, and the bill has been paid. Within a couple of years the tree will need to be pruned, again. With proper pruning most trees can beautifully grow for 5 -7 years before further pruning is needed.
There are times a tree may need to have the height or spread reduced. It may be to get branches off of buildings or remove from power lines. There are proper techniques of doing reductions that will leave your tree healthy and beautiful. Branches should be removed back to their point of origin. If a branch needs to be reduced, it should be cut back at a location where another smaller branch is growing along the branch. It should be large enough to assume the terminal role.