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Throughout this series we have been highlighting the negatives of tree topping on your tree as well as you. Finally, we would like to address how it can impact your wallet and what can be done as an alternative to tree topping.
Topping is not cheap!
There are several costs which go way beyond the initial fee for topping which can remain hidden to a homeowner.
Topping is bad…so what can be done about an overgrown tree?
If you have a tree outgrowing your yard, imposing on your power lines, or threatening to fall, contact 770-tree-guy for a consultation. We only utilize arboricultural practices which are in the best interest of you and your tree.
In the previous post, we started to explain the many reasons why tree topping is not a proper arboricultural practice. In continuation, we would like to offer even more reasons why 770-Tree-Guy cannot recommend this practice.
1. Topping exposes your tree to sunburn!
Think of the leaves at the top of the tree like a pair of sunglasses or a coat of SPF 55. Leaves provide protection to the branches below by absorbing the sunlight. Exposure to too much light and heat causes the tissue beneath the bark to become sunburned which can lead to splitting, cankers, and ultimately death for some branches. Keep your tree out of the heat by refusing to top your tree.
2. Topping is risky for you!
Many homeowners will choose to top trees to avoid fall risks and minimize danger. The opposite happens by topping—trees become even more dangerous. The survival mechanism which kicks in and causes rapid new growth through new shoots produces branches which are weak and likely to break off. Branches are designed to grow from the proper socket of layered up tissue which will anchor them for support in the long-term. Because these branches grow so rapidly, as much as 20 feet in a year for some varieties of trees, these branches can cause serious damage when impacted by hazardous conditions such as wind, snow, or ice. The original goal of being “safer” has the opposite effect as these new branches are even more likely to fall. Protect your home and property by only employing proper pruning techniques.
3. Topping is stealing the natural beauty of your tree forever!
Topping is so much more than giving your tree a bad haircut. Although an ugly haircut will grow out and remedy over time, topping damages the very core of the tree so it will never shine with its former natural splendor. Trees are designed to grow with an intended structure which will allow their leaves to fully absorb the natural sunlight. When a tree is topped, not only is the tree less attractive for the moment with unsightly stumps, but the tree is impacted forever and will never regain its original ideal structure. Topping can leave a tree without proper leaf coverage for up to 6 months. During that time, the tree will look disfigured, but it will also absorb far too much light and heat. Topping is a decision believed to be a temporary solution, which has long-term consequences.
Look out for the concluding blog post in this series which highlights a final impactful reason and the best alternatives to tree topping.
Even after 25 years of research and documentation about the harmful effects, tree topping is still a common practice. Tree topping is easily the most harmful pruning technique possible, yet people will choose to harm their trees in this manner.
What is Tree Topping and Why would someone choose to top a tree off?
Simply put, tree topping is a practice of cutting branches off to stubs or weak lateral branches without concern for the long-term health of the tree. Tree topping can also be referred to as “tipping”, “heading”, “hat-racking”, or “rounding over”. By pruning the tree in this manner, the tree’s future is greatly in question, resting upon an irrecoverable stump or a branch not able to be the central core of the tree.
The excuses given for utilizing the topping method generally are– “The tree is getting too big for my yard,” or “The tree looks like it might fall on my house.” Although the tree’s size is reduced by this arboreal method, the risk posed to your property is not actually neutralized.
Why is Tree Topping so bad?
The human body has many adverse reactions to undue stress, so it is no surprise that a tree also has many detrimental effects from too much stress. The top of a tree is extremely important because 50-100% of the leaf-bearing crown is located there. Leaves may not seem that essential, but they are necessary for a tree to be fed. When removed at an alarming rate, the tree goes into starvation mode and survival mechanisms kick in at full force. Basically, the tree is desperately trying to regenerate itself in any way possible. Blooms which should have remained dormant are encouraged along too quickly and the tree forces new growth through off shoots below every cut. Obviously, this intensely fast regeneration takes a great deal of energy. If a tree is not already quite hearty nor holding much reserved energy, the tree will likely die, or will be severely weakened at best. It is easy to see how negative stress and starvation would be for a person and trees are no different.
The issue is with topping and not with pruning in general. Pruning can be done in an appropriate way which will not endanger a tree. Proper pruning methods dictate that all cuts are made at the point of attachment, beyond the branch collar. Think of these cuts like a scrape on the knee of a toddler. The body is prepared to heal small scrapes without any sort of serious medical intervention. Healthy trees are similarly equipped to handle pruning cuts made at the appropriate junctures when the size of the wound is not too big. Topping methods involve making cuts between branches which leaves a stub that the tree may not be able to naturally heal up. Over time, the exposed wood tissues will start to decay. Although a tree will try to contain the decay, dealing with multiple wounds caused by the topping process may cause the decay to overpower the tree and spread throughout the originally healthy parts. The open wounds on the tree will also attract insects and disease which combined with decay will be insurmountable odds for a tree to overcome.
Tune back in for even more reasons to consider other alternatives to tree topping as well as solutions to trees overgrowth!