We’ve talked about tree topping in several blog posts and how dangerous it can be to the tree but regardless, every year someone continues to ask if they can reduce the size of the tree, cut the top off, or buzz cut a tree. While we always state the topping a tree is not usually recommended, if it’s a safety issue, it might be unavoidable. However, there are several different types of “pruning” that can take place before we actually top a tree. We can reduce the crown, simply prune it, or thin it out. But really what is the difference between pruning and topping a tree?
When a tree is topped it can literally starve the tree to death. The cutting upsets the balance between the trees crown and the number of its roots. This imbalance can affect the trees a food supply and a lot of leaf surfaces needed to take in light and carbon dioxide. Cutting off the top portion of the tree, it’s a major food making source can severely deplete the tree of its resources. If the tree is topped, suckers can sprout from dormant but the long and older trunk or branch of a tree and they develop quickly and weakly drastically pulling nutrients that the rest of the tree needs. There no longer feeding the large portion of the tree but the suckers that just literally suck the life from the tree. This can create hollow and weak limbs and the tree is easily susceptible to disease and decay.
Most of the time when we are talking about pruning were talking about fruit trees so that they continue to bear good fruit. Most people don’t prune an evergreen tree unless it’s decorative. In situations where electrical wires, power lines, or a safety issue is a consideration, a professional tree service company should be the one taking care of it. If you’re simply pruning a tree for better fruit growth or shape, as long as you don’t cut off the main branch or the trunk as in an evergreen, clipping edges of limbs and branches should be just fine.
Crown reduction is also an option for reducing the size of a tree. As long as no more than 20% of the tree’s canopy is removed at once, the tree should go into shock and cause the tree to decline. Crown reduction is simply removing limbs from the top portion of the canopy and reducing the height of a tree rather than topping it. These cuts are only made on the next lateral growth and this will promote proper and fast healing.
Tree topping is simply chopping off the top of the tree without proper research and careful planning. It is never a justifiable pruning practice. A topped tree will require a lot of maintenance and could be more hazardous once it’s been topped. Why Tree Topping is a Bad Idea
If you have questions or you’re just unclear about the difference and need some advice, give us a call. Would love to offer advice over the phone or come out and check out the situation.