Trees are one of the most effective ways of adding privacy and shade to your property. At the same time, trees can grow larger than you like and maintaining them can be difficult. Unfortunately, many lawn owners care for trees improperly and can actually cause major damage to the trees even while they think they are improving the life of their tree. One of the most harmful—yet popular—procedures is tree topping. There are a number of alternate names for tree topping (heading, rounding, etc.), but tree topping basically refers to removing a substantial amount of branches in a mature tree. In this post, we review exactly why tree topping should be avoided at all costs.
Why tree topping is harmful
Broadly speaking, the major problem with tree topping is that the tree simply isn’t ready to have a major part of its anatomy removed in one fell swoop. Trees may look indestructible but they are delicate and have a fragile balance the branches and leaves and the remainder of the tree. When you cut major parts of the tree, you make it so that the tree can’t store energy. As a result, the tree is unable to fend itself from disease such as canker and root rot. Tree topping is also damaging for the bark, which can suffer from sunscald. What’s more, tree topping makes it so that there are branch stubs, which are unnatural for the tree. These branch stubs are unable to protect themselves from insects or disease.
Another issue with tree topping is that it leads to water sprouts, which refers to the excessive growth that occurs below where the tree was topped. Paradoxically, you will find that after tree topping, the tree undergoes rapid growth, in the form of water sprouts. Not only are they unsightly—consisting of thin and wispy branches—but water sprouts are particularly susceptible to disease or pests.
Alternatives to tree topping
Instead of tree topping, you should practice early training or selective thinning. If you are open to removing the entire tree, this is also preferable to tree toppin
g. Crown reduction is another acceptable procedure, as it is more natural for the structure of the tree. You should also be very selective in where you plant your tree. If you avoid planting your tree next to a power line or other obstruction, you may never have to worry about trimming the tree in the first place.
Caring for trees is tricky, but remember that excessive pruning causes major damage to the tree’s structure. Be very strategic with where you plant your trees and train your trees early in their lives in order to avoid tree topping later in life.