Stop Topping Trees

The practice known as “topping” – the lopping off of large parts of a tree – is the equivalent to amputation. Tree topping was considered for years to be the easiest and cheapest way to make mature trees safer and reduce their size. Whether it’s because of tradition or ignorance, millions of trees have been hacked with little or no consideration to their health and structural integrity.

Trees maintain a delicate crown-to-root ratio. Topping removes the crown, upsetting this ratio and limiting the tree’s ability to sustain its own roots. This makes them more susceptible to insects, disease and decay. Limbs weakened by decay cannot handle the weight of rapid re-growth. In a few years, if the tree survives, it may become a bigger safety hazard than it was prior to topping.

Another practice that severely damages trees is “lion’s-tailing”. In this case the inner foliage, branches, and limbs of a tree are stripped bare. The lion-tailed tree has the unnatural form of a giant umbrella, with the remaining foliage limited to the ends of the branches. The limbs left on the tree are long and bare except for a characteristic “tuft” of foliage at the end, giving the appearance of a lion’s tail. Unfortunately, some so-called professionals practice lion’s tailing, which isn’t as instantly recognized as a bad practice by consumers.

You should not top trees because:

  • Leaves large exposed wounds that the tree can’t readily close.
  • Ruins tree structure.
  • Removes too much foliage and disrupts the trees energy storage for future growth.
  • Stipulates vigorous new growth, which is weakly attached and prone to breakage.
  • Increases tree maintenance costs.
  • Destroys the tree’s appearance and value.

You should not lion’s tail trees because:

  • Limbs become weak and may break.
  • Increased sunlight on the interior of the tree can cause sunscald.
  • It stimulates vigorous new growth on the inner portion of the tree that is weakly attached and prone to break.
  • It removes too much foliage disrupting the trees energy reserve for future growth.
  • It destroys the tree’s appearance and value.

If you have questions or suggestions, we welcome your email or phone call.

Thank you,
Delinda Bate, Office Manager
Acorn Arboricultural Services, Inc.
916-787-8733 (TREE)

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