Don’t Top Trees

Radical pruning or "topping" looks unsightly and weakens trees
Radical pruning or “topping” looks unsightly and weakens trees

Trees are a vital part of our urban neighborhoods and should be cared for, but often they are seriously harmed with bad pruning practices. Have you ever seen this? It’s called “topping” or “whacking,” and it’s all too common.

Topping, heading, tipping or rounding-over all refer to the practice of cutting off branches or trunks without consideration, leaving stubs where branches once grew. Not only is this unattractive and ugly, it also weakens the tree. Radical pruning like this forces the tree to grew back quickly to replace leaves. The rapid growth results in weaker tissue and, ultimately, the new growth is not as well attached to the tree, making it susceptible to breakage in strong winds.

TreePeople, a non-profit devoted to planting trees, recommends that homeowners avoid hiring tree trimmers who use this harsh method of pruning.  Instead, find a knowledgable tree trimmer who will take the time to properly prune the trees, thinning branches to allow more light…but not so dramatically as to stress the tree.  Arborists generally recommend pruning lightly but more often – annually is usually sufficient. Controlling the size of the leaf canopy will also help control the girth of a tree.

Take care of our urban canopy and prune carefully.

Knuckles form instead of normal branching when trees are improperly pruned
Knuckles form instead of normal branching when trees are improperly pruned with harsh cutting techniques such as “topping”
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About Patricia Lombard

Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

0 thoughts on “Don’t Top Trees

  1. OMG That pruning is dreadful. Such a blight on the whole neighborhood is caused by that job. Years ago the city hired a firm which did that same thing to all of the elms on Rossmore…and the stress on the trees caused most them to die in the following years. Any tree trimmer who does that to a tree should be black-listed for malpractice.

    Jimbo

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