February 10, 2010
Photo credit: joiseyshowaa
Topping is defined as “the drastic removal of large branches with little regard for location of the pruning cuts”. Topping trees means cutting trees back nearly to the trunk.
So what’s wrong with topping trees?
In addition to the aesthetic issues, topping results in several other problems.
- Topping encourages new growth, so if your goal is to cap your tree’s growth, it won’t work. Height control by topping is doomed to fail. The new branches grow fast to the original height, but are much more crowded.
- Topping means serious injury to your tree. Repeated removal of the tree’s leaves weakens the tree by not letting the tree to create food, which makes it susceptible to diseases. Topping causes the quick growth of dense, weak, upright branches. They are often weakly attached and break easily in the wind. The suckers resulting from topping make the tree top-heavy and more likely to catch wind. This increases the chance of blow-down in a storm. It turns your tree from an asset to a liability.
- The beauty of a tree lies in its natural branch layout and movement. Topped tree looks disfigured. There’s nothing graceful about a topped tree. Topping destroys the winter silhouette of a tree. As the tree branches grow back, they do not go back to their original shape and beauty. Instead, the new growth consists of suckers which are ugly and straight.
- Topping removes the shade and exposes the internal bark to sun scald by exposure to direct sunlight. Trees have difficulty protecting themselves from sunscald and the large wounds that result from topping. These sunscald wounds are vulnerable to insect, fungi and spore invasion. Stubs are likely to attract wood-boring insects.
- Because of the negative impact on appearance, structure, and health, topping can reduce the value of a large ornamental tree by thousands of dollars. Because topping weakens the tree is creates a liability and a need for more maintenance.
How to prevent topping?
Plant the right tree in the right place. The key to success is to plant trees that fit and will thrive in the places where they are planted.
Buy quality nursery stock. To assure success, it is important to start with a healthy plant that has good structural form.
Here are a few local nurseries that sell quality trees:
Elizabeth Anna’s Old World Garden 2825 8th Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76110, tel. 817 922 0930
Weston Gardens in Bloom 8101 Anglin Dr., Fort Worth, TX 76140, tel.817 572 0549
Designs in Nature 5501 East I20, Fort Worth, TX 76119, tel. 817 561 9248
To trim your trees, choose an experienced, certified arborist.
Here are a few local arborists you can hire for your tree trimming and removal needs:
Integrity Tree Care tel. 817 714 1777
Bob's Tree Service tel. 817 246 4221