Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"Top" o' the tree to you.

Have you heard of the term "topping"

Some customers request that a large tree be "topped" to reduce its size, but we NEVER recommend topping and in fact, licensed companies can lose their tree expert license for topping trees.

Here's why:

What is topping?
According to the ISA (International Society for Arboriculture) "Topping is the indiscriminate cutting of tree branches to stubs or lateral branches that are not large enough to assume the terminal role." In other words, basically just chopping off the top of a tree to mere stubs.

Why is topping bad?
1. It puts stress on the tree:
Topping can remove over half of the leaf-bearing crown of the tree that provides it with food. This puts the tree in a starvation/survival mode and puts out a large batch of shoots right below the cut. This is the tree's way of rapidly making leaves to produce food. If the tree does not have adequate storage of nutrients, it will be seriously weakened and may die.

2. It causes decay:
The cuts made by topping create wounds that the tree may not be able to heal. These wounds are susceptible to decay. Normally a tree quarantines the decaying section and isolates it. But with multiple cuts made by topping the tree may not be able to defend against the decay.

3. Topping is hazardous:
As mentioned before, the process of topping creates a lot of stress on the tree. The new shoots that are created are more superficial and less stable. This means that the new shoots are more prone to breakage and can cause damage to you our your property.

4. It's UGLY:
Topping disrupts the normal growth of a tree. After first being topped, the tree can look bare and harsh, like the limbs have been untimely amputated.  When the tree starts to grow again, the shoots sprout in a shape akin to a witches broom. The natural beauty and elegance of the tree is lost.

5. It's Expensive:
Once the tree is topped, trimming will be required again as many shoots sprout up. In addition, the shoots are not as strong and will break easily causing damage to property or requiring clean-up. While a well-maintained tree can add to the value of a property a disfigured, topped tree is more of an expense an liability.

What are some alternatives:
-Responsible pruning by a licensed tree expert. If a branch must be shortened, it should be cut back to a lateral that is large enough to assume the terminal role.
-Responsible tree removal by a licensed tree expert