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Pruning vs. Topping

Often when people want there tree pruned or the crown reduced, they ask a tree service to "Top" their tree. However, topping and pruning are two very different things. Pruning benefits the tree and the homeowner while topping only harms the tree and creates hazards and headaches for homeowners. 
  
What is "Topping"?
Also referred to as hat-racking, stubbing, rounding-off and tipping, topping is considered the most harmful pruning method. It is the indiscriminative cutting back of tree branches to create branch stubs. The purpose of topping is to minimize a tree canopy or to round out the tree form. Unfortunately, none of these objectives are realized with the topping technique.   

Why is Topping Harmful?
Topping causes irreversible damage to mature trees and high hazard risks to homeowners.

Topping is harmful to the biological functioning of a tree! Topping may remove between 50%-100% of the leaf-bearing crown. The tree then suffers from lack of food produced through photosynthesis in the leaves. The stress associated with tree topping renders a tree more vulnerable to insect and disease problems. After a tree is topped the left over "stubs" begin to rot and decay. The decaying wood is attractive to any number of insects and diseases, serving as an entrance to the rest of the sound tree.

Topping causes hazards to develop! Once the tree is topped, it will quickly try to compensate for the loss of leaves. The survival mechanism is to grow multiple shoots just below the cut branch. These new shoots grow faster and are much weaker than the previous limbs. As the new shoots grow and more weight is put on the branch union, it is common for these shoots to fail; failure is also common in windy conditions. If a topped tree is located near a house, driveway, playground or high use area, the failing new shoots could cause serious damage.   

Alternatives to Topping!
A pruning technique called, Crown Reduction, will selectively cut back a large tree and reduce the spread. Pruning cuts are only made to lateral branch junctions; no "stubs" are left. If a tree is located under power lines, another solution is to use Directional Pruning. In this case a tree is pruned in a fashion that it grows away from the power lines but retains a central leader.   

Consult a certified arborist to determine what type of pruning will fit your needs!   
   
Richard’s Tree Service is committed to providing you with the absolute best, most honest and environmental friendly service available anywhere. Contact us today to set up an appointment and see how Richard’s Tree Service can help you!

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