Many people believe that tree topping is an effective form of pruning. The truth is, it is not an acceptable technique at all. In fact, tree topping is the most harmful tree care practice used for pruning trees. Somehow, it has remained a common means to prune trees despite the tedious warnings from tree care experts. But there are times when trees can be topped.
Tree topping is an acceptable practice when performed on dead trees for the purpose of aesthetics or hindered views. If you want the best for your landscaping trees, continue reading to learn more about tree topping and its harmful effects on trees.
Unselective Branch Removal
Topping trees involves cutting most or all branches and limbs down to short stubs. Essentially, it is the process of removing tree branches and limbs without being selective or concerned. Tree topping also goes by the names, “tipping”, “hat-racking”, “heading”, and “rounding over.” The most common reason people choose to top a tree is to shorten it or reduce its size. Unless the tree is already dead, this is highly-detrimental to its survival. That is because tree topping is not an effective method for reducing the height or span of a tree. Homeowners also have trees topped when they feel that their tree is too large and may pose a danger in the future. But this is not an effective method for reducing tree hazards either. What topping will do is increase the risk of tree hazards and problems.
Trees are living organisms, which means they too can experience a decline in health and well-being. And when they are treated improperly, they can become stressed, which can result in tree health decline and more. Stress is a common side effect a tree can experience as a result of tree topping. Most of a tree’s life-bearing crown is removed during the tree topping process, which inhibits their ability to obtain sufficient food. And when they cannot get enough food, they starve, thus triggering various other survival instincts and mechanisms.
For instance, it can trigger dormant buds to activate, which then prompts epicormic shoots to grow rapidly from every cut. This is the tree’s attempt to re-grow foliage as quickly as possible in order to survive. Unfortunately, topped trees often weaken and die because they cannot grow enough leaves back to sufficiently feed themselves.
Other Negative Effects of Tree Topping:
🌳 Decay occurs because the tree cannot close or heal its large cuts.
🌳 Exposed trees are prone to sunburn.
🌳 Epicormic sprouts can fall and damage property or injure people and pets.
🌳 Unhealthy trees attract pests and diseases.