Why tree topping is a bad idea

22 February 2016
 Categories: , Blog

Tree topping can be witnessed almost everywhere from the large number of disfigured trees around. Basically, tree topping is a tree removal practice of eliminating large branches or entire tops of trees, leaving lateral branches or stubs that are very small to take up the responsibility of a terminal leader. One of the main reasons behind tree topping is to cut the size of the tree due to its large size around a given property or because it's posing a safety hazard. Oddly, topping is hardly a viable solution. Here are reasons why.

Stress on trees

After being topped, a tree loses its entire leaf-bearing crown. Because leaves act as the food reserve for trees, the removal of this food supply causes starvation for the tree. In response, the starving tree quickly sends out several shoots from latent buds beneath each cut. This forms the survival mechanism of the tree, which includes putting out a new set of leaves in the shortest time possible. The absence of adequate stored energy makes such a response impossible, and as a result, the tree suffers harm and on the brink of premature demise.

Topping hardly controls tree size

As several new shoots start to grow desperately in order to replace the leaf food supply, they do so quickly, bringing about multiple sprouts. In some tree species, these new shoots may grow several meters wide in a short period of time. Actually, topped trees grow back a lot quickly and hardly slow till they attain their original size. Therefore, you are likely to be facing the same tree height and spread problem sooner than you expect, which makes topping an incessant, costly cycle.

Safety aspect

Note that the new shoots that are fast growing are only anchored in the outmost layers of the original branch. Basically, these weak attachments lack the structural reliability typical of the original branch and may break off easily, thus posing extreme danger to nearby property or passers-by.  Most trees do not heal quickly or close the cut wounds after being topped. The bare cut wounds creates pathways for diseases, pests and harmful organisms to penetrate through the tree branches.

The best solution

When you wish to control the tallness or a spread of a given tree around your property, consult a professional arborist. A professional tree removal service will not suggest topping but rather advise you on the best pruning technique required to maintain the appearance as well as the health and protection of your trees. Some of the pruning options to topping that may be recommended include canopy reduction, which entails removal of little select limbs at the point of attachment. Another suitable method is thinning or interlimbing which involves removing certain branches up the length of the tree trunk to permit partial views across the tree.

For more information about tree topping, tree lopping or trimming and other tree services, contact a local arborist.