Tree Topping 101

Tree Topping 101

26 Dec

The term tree topping means just that, to remove the top of the tree. It is a very radical way of pruning a tree at the main trunk at the top to remove or reduce the length of the tree. 

At Axe Tree Pros Frederick Md. landscape contractor company, we don’t agree nor believe in the method of tree topping. Reason being, it hurts the tree.

It is also referred to as coppicing or pollarding. Both are forms of tree topping used primarily for commercial applications to produce shorter trees.

Pollarding makes fruit picking easier by cutting the height of the tree around 6 feet. Coppicing cuts the tree at ground level so that it makes lots of new shoots which can then be used for things like basket weaving.

In a residential garden, topping is not commonly used as a technique. Keep reading to find out why that is.

Why Do We Top Trees?

The main reason is that the tree has grown too tall for its setting. It could be interfering with overhead power lines or perhaps blocking the light from your windows. Sometimes people feel that the tree just looks too large in their garden or even that there is a risk of the tree toppling over in a storm. These are good reasons to top a tree, however, topping should be a last resort as it can cause irreparable damage to the tree.

Does Topping Harm The Tree?

Yes, it is very harmful in a few different ways. When you remove the main branches, you also remove the leaves. This, in turn, means that the tree has lost a major source of its food. Where the trunk or limbs have been cut, this is now an entry point for diseases and insects that can cause a great deal of damage.  The limbs can also suffer from sunscald or the bark can be damaged.

The tree will grow new limbs where the old ones where. These limbs will be weaker than the original limbs and less able to withstand storms. If you topped the tree in the hopes of reducing leaf fall, this will not be the case. The new branches will grow back with more lush growth than before and the leaf fall will be greater! They will also grow to the height of the old branches, which means that you will eventually have the same problems that led you to top the tree initially.

All of this means that the tree may well need additional care to help it to survive or you might need to have the tree removed entirely in the future.

What Are The Alternatives To Topping?

With an existing tree, it is a good idea to consult a professional. They will be able to tell you which limbs can be pruned back to reduce the height.

If you are planting new trees, always look up first to ensure there is nothing in the way overhead. In addition, do your research and make sure that the tree you are buying will be suitable for the size and topography of your garden. For the sake of your trees, don’t top them if you can possibly avoid it. Happy Holidays from our Frederick Md. landscape contractor company to all of yours.