Seldom does a homeowner ask a tree trimming company to disfigure their tree. The homeowner simply wants to reduce the size of the tree and does not realize that the low price quote to top a tree comes with a hidden price tag. Trees that are topped cannot receive sufficient nourishment to remain strong. The large wounds are slow to heal because what little nutrition the tree receives from its skeleton is going for basic survival. It is not long before pests and disease make inroads into the tree wounds. Most homeowners anticipate when their tree is topped, the tree will simply grow newer limbs at a lower height and return to its basic shape at a lower height. Unfortunately when they decide to top a tree, what they end up with is a disfigured tree that produces lots of sprouts at the cut ends. The sprouts will never be strong limbs. Eventually they will become large and heavy and a potential hazard.
The Reasons Not to Top a Tree:
- Some Trees are more tolerant of topping than others, but many will die because the reduced foliage means less food for the tree.
- Topping a tree results in a disfigured tree that does not add to the resale value of the home.
- If you receive a small paper cut on your hand your body’s natural defense system will heal that wound without intervention. On the other hand, if someone chopped off your wrist, your body would no be able to close that wound without outside intervention. This is the same with trees. The large stubs of a topped tree prevent the tree’s natural healing system from forming a callus and resisting insect or fungi invasion.
- If you shaved your head and spent the day outside in San Antonio in the summertime, you would expect to get burned. You can expect the same thing to happen to a tree when you top a tree. The leafy foliage was acting as a sunscreen and when it is removed the tree receives a big shock.
- If you goal was to reduce the height of a tree by topping a tree, then the goal will not be achieved because most trees will vigorously grow “water sprouts” which are dense matchstick shaped limbs that will return the tree to its original height. Only, instead of being majestic, the tree will look wild and unkempt. And the branches will be weak subject to breakage.
If you need additional reasons not to top a tree, the University of Missouri has an article that provides additional details.
How to Top a Tree—Are there Alternatives to this Method?
Fortunately, for a little more money than topping a tree, your tree can be reduced and the beauty of the tree retained. Canopy Tree Service does not top trees. The practice is alarmingly common in San Antonio because there are unlicensed workers following brush pickup and offering a quick fix to a home owner’s problem. Canopy Tree Service arborists use a method that involves “drop crotch” to a lower branch. Compared to top a tree method, selective reduction is way better. This involves taking the furthest out extent of a branch back to the largest interior branch to carry on apical dominance. It is common to lower a tree by drop crotching it to increase visibility of a lake or business sign. This selective reduction helps to preserve the tree will accommodating the needs to the owner for a lower tree. In an ideal world, trees would not have to be reduced for “people reasons,” but in an urban landscape, needs have to be balanced.
What if my Tree has been Topped?
Once a tree is topped, it is hard to save. But having a Canopy Tree Service perform a “restoration” may help improve the tree appearance. This restoration would involve thinning out the water sprouts and allowing a few to remain and grow bigger. The ideas is to find the biggest water sprouts and give them an opportunity to grow with less competition. restoration is way better. Restoration is usually performed over several years to guide the tree back to improved attachment strength.