Certified Arborist in Wilmington – What is Tree Topping and Why is Tree Topping a Poor Practice?

By Stein Tree
Posted on September 30, 2019

Ask any certified arborist in Wilmington, or anywhere else, and they will tell you that “tree topping” is simply a bad idea.

Certified Arborist in Wilmington - What is Tree Topping and Why is Tree Topping a Poor Practice?

The method of pruning trees is sometimes practiced by tree maintenance services or by homeowners, but experienced arborists know tree topping is actually one of the worst possible ways of pruning a tree. Those who perform tree topping may think the practice is a quick and easy method of dealing with trees that have grown too large, but the practice causes a lot of damage.

What is Tree Topping?

When tree topping is performed, an arbitrary maximum height is chosen, and then the trunk and all branches above that height are chopped off in a roughly straight horizontal plane. No regard is given to the function of the branches being cut, or how these cuts will affect the tree’s growth afterwards.

How Does Tree Topping Harm Trees?

Tree topping has quite a few downsides.

  1. Topping removes part of the tree’s canopy, significantly reducing its ability to collect sunlight and create nutrients.  
  2. Tree topping greatly stresses the tree, creating wounds that make it far more susceptible to disease and insect infestation
  3. The tree will begin sprouting new foliage from all the stumps that remain. Rather than a single neat canopy, the tree’s new “water sprouts” will form an unattractive new shape.
  4. Between the direct damage done to the branches, and the high chance of rot and disease, the tree will now be far more likely to have branches break and fall off. The tree becomes more hazardous than it was before – potentially opening the owner up to danger due to brittle branches.

What are the Alternatives to Tree Topping?

Although the best scenario is that homeowners plant trees with a maximum growth height of less than the space available (due to power lines or other obstacles), plans can go awry and mistakes can be made. If a tree must be kept smaller than its intended height, careful pruning when young will allow for healthy growth with proper shape. If a tree must be cut to make way for power lines or other trees, a skilled certified arborist can assess and handle the job properly in a way that will allow continued healthy growth.

Can Topped Trees Recover?

If you have a tree that has been topped, consult a certified arborist. With proper nurturing and pruning over the course of several years, a tree can recover and be reshaped to an extent.

Trust Your Tree Pruning to a Certified Arborist in Wilmington

In short, tree topping is an unhealthy form of tree maintenance.  For sustainable and healthy options in tree pruning, contact Stein Tree Service today. Our certified arborist will do what is best for you and for your trees.




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