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Why Shouldn’t I Have My Trees Topped?

As weather and temperatures moderate, people are beginning to go outside and are
starting to assess their trees and consider pruning or topping them.
Customarily, a person looks in the phone book and calls three different tree companies
and states, “I want to get my trees topped and | am looking for the best price.”
When | receive a call like this, | ask for their reason for wanting to have the trees topped.
The top five responses are:

1. I get this done every 2 to 3 years.

2. | want to cut them way back, so I do not have do this for another 10 years.

3. lam tired of all the leaves.

4. lam selling my house and this is one thing the new potential homeowner
won’t have to do and will see value in this.

5. The tree is getting too tall and I’m afraid it is going to fall on the house!

| respond by debunking each of those reasons by providing facts about trees:

1. You will actually have more leaves as a result of topping your trees.

The tree compensates by producing regrowth and foliage as soon as
possible because the abrupt removal of so much canopy deprives the tree
of nutrients derived from photosynthesis. The size of the tree canopy is
proportional to the amount of nutrients the tree needs to sustain the entire
tree. Drastically and suddenly removing that nutrient supply threatens the
tree: Drastic actions to the tree result in drastic resonses by the tree.

2. This practice actually devalues your property.

3. It is an expensive practice. Re-sprouts from topping can grow as much as 20
feet in a year, and the unions from that regrowth are inevitably structurally
weak, leading to more susceptibility to falling limbs and branches and
property maintenance, perhaps even property damage.

4. Topping creates hazards from the decay that expands in the tree from this
procedure. It exposes the tree to diseases and infestations.

5. The long-term expense and maintenance caused by topping is greater than
employing proper pruning and maintenance, including the likelihood of
eventually having to have the tree removed and replaced.

Another important thought on tree topping: if it was good for trees, then trees would
have developed a natural means of periodically dropping most of their canopy.
l explain to callers who ask for topping that an overwhelming majority of people
do not top their trees.
Tree topping is penny-wise, pound-foolish logic. It is a high-maintenance practice
which eventually leads to the death of the tree.
It is customary for a person to have their trees topped 3 to 5 times before making a
final call that their trees are dying.
Decay spreads through the trees from this type of pruning and results in so
much dead wood that it creates a habitat for ants and termites to infest. Eventually
the trees reach the point of necessitated removal. Often, the tree owner doesn’t
recognize the decay until after a property damage or personal injury incident occurs.
When called to such a site, | usually find and recommend that the tree must be
removed and replaced. Ironically, the owner’s usual response is a mild protest that
they love their trees!
People really do care about their trees, so that is why I try to inform them as much
as possible.

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