Topping is evil
We recently had a storm event that resulted in a lot of damaged trees throughout Brandon and the Westman area. With few exceptions, the reason that these trees failed was because they had been previously topped. I am not talking pineapple on pizza (which is delicious) or sprinkles on ice cream (literally the worst) Read on to find out what topping is, why people have done it in the past, and what you can do differently to take care of your trees.
What is topping?
Topping in the tree world is an outdated pruning practice that does not deliver. Generally, “topping” is just that – taking the top or upper crown off a tree.
After topping, many epicormic shoots arise and develop into weakly attached branches. TheseLinda Chalker-Scott, The Myth of Tree Topping, PlantAmnesty, https://www.plantamnesty.org/wp-content/uploads/The-Myth-of-Tree-Topping.pdf
branches, and the multiple leaders, continue to develop girth and weight and have an
increasing potential to fall and cause damage to people and property.
Why do people top trees?
Trees may have grown and are interfering with power lines or properties. People may think that it is safer to have a shorter tree or that getting a serious pruning will give the tree a chance to “fill out” Topping promises a safer tree, but does not deliver.
How does topping a tree affect it?
Initially, the loss of leaves results in less food for the tree. The tree is more susceptible to disease, decay and insects through all the cut off stubs and limbs.
Trees understandably freak out after losing their top or upper canopy (how upset would you be if you lost your head?!) Trees react with rapid growth, which results in poorly connected branches in an attempt to replace as many leaves as quickly as possible.
Eventually the new branches grow to the original height, but are tied in poorly, which restarts the whole cycle again.
What is the alternative to topping a tree?
Excellent question! A healthy, well pruned, watered tree is the safest. Depending on the age, placement, and species of tree, there are several effective tree pruning techniques that can be employed. Selective crown reduction, or crown thinning are two ways we can respond to some of the concerns that motivate tree topping. Bottom line, if you are considered topping a tree, you may want to consider tree removal and stump grinding and replace with a tree that will more comfortably fit into the space.
You can consult with an arborist, who can assess risk, and make suggestions!
You can request a visit online here Request a quote ! Or call Reta at 204-730-0368