Why We Don’t Top Trees
Why We Don’t Top Trees
- Starvation: Good pruning practices rarely remove more than 25 percent of the crown. Removing too much of the tree’s foliage interferes with the tree’s ability to manufacture food.
- Shock: When a tree’s foliage is removed the remaining bark tissue, which is not usually exposed to direct rays of the sun, can sustain scalding similar to a sunburn and can shorten the tree’s life expectancy dramatically.
- Insects & Disease: Large stubs left after being topped have a difficult time forming a callus. These stubs are highly vulnerable to insect, disease, and fungi infestation.
- Weak Limbs: New growth that sprouts after a larger limb is removed tends to be weakly attached. Weakly attached limbs are more prone to breakage and failure.
- Rapid New Growth: Topping is typically used to control the height and spread of the tree; however, it happens to have the opposite effect. The new growth sprouts are more numerous and grow more rapidly than normal new growth.
- Tree Death: A tree’s natural response to the pruning cuts is to try to compartmentalize around the wounds; however, the way that the cuts are made during topping often prevents this process from happening. This then leads to decay, and insect infiltration and compromises the integrity of the tree. Ultimately shortening the life span of the tree as well as increasing the risk of limb failure.
- Appearances: Trees are disfigured by topping. Even if the tree recovers from the topping it will never regain the structural character of its species.
- Tree Topping is Dangerous: Because of all of this added stress to the tree, in addition to the new and weakly attached sprouts (some species produce shoots that can grow as much as 20 feet in a single year!), the tree is highly susceptible to winds, storms, disease, and pests, and is a significant liability.
If you are considering topping a tree to make room for a power line or because it is blocking the view of a street sign, it may be best to instead remove the tree and replace it with one more suited to the space, perhaps a species that will not grow as tall or as wide. Call a Certified Arborist to assess your trees.
DON’T TOP YOUR TREES