Tree careTree pruninggraphic of crown reduction

Customers often ask, what are safer trimming methods that can be used? In the following paragraphs, we will explain the differences between tree topping and crown reduction as well as their benefits and negative impacts they have.

What is tree topping?

Tree topping is the practice of cutting off the top of a tree’s trunk and branches, often leaving only stubs or lateral branches. This practice is considered bad for several reasons:

  1. Tree health: Topping removes a significant portion of a tree’s crown, which can reduce its ability to produce food through photosynthesis. The tree may also experience stress, making it more susceptible to disease, insect infestations, and decay.
  2. Structural integrity: Topping can weaken a tree’s structure by removing its main branches, causing it to grow weaker, poorly attached branches that are more prone to breaking and falling.
  3. Aesthetics: Topping can leave a tree with a disfigured appearance, often resulting in an unsightly and unbalanced appearance.
  4. Safety: Topped trees are more likely to have weakened branches that are prone to breaking and falling, posing a hazard to people and property.
  5. Cost: Tree topping is a short-term solution that requires frequent maintenance, and it can be expensive to continually maintain the tree as it regrows.

In summary, tree topping is not a recommended practice as it can harm the tree’s health, structural integrity, aesthetics, and safety, and can be costly. Instead, selective pruning methods should be used to maintain the health, structure, and appearance of the tree.

What is crown reduction?

Crown reduction is a common tree pruning technique that involves selectively reducing the height and/or spread of a tree’s crown, which is the uppermost part of the tree that consists of branches, leaves, and other foliage. This pruning technique is often used to manage the size and shape of a tree, as well as to improve its structural integrity, health, and overall appearance. Crown reduction can be an effective technique for managing trees that have outgrown their space, especially in urban areas where space is limited. Reducing the size of the tree’s crown, it can allow more light to filter through to the ground and create a more open and inviting space. Additionally, crown reduction can help to prevent damage to nearby structures, such as homes and power lines, by reducing the risk of falling branches.

Why we recommend crown reduction over tree topping

Here are some of the reasons why tree topping is harmful (image below):

  1. Tree stress: Tree topping puts significant stress on the tree. Removing large branches or the entire crown of a tree can cause significant shock to the tree, and it may struggle to recover from the damage. This can lead to stunted growth, reduced vitality, and increased susceptibility to pests and disease.
  2. Regrowth issues: After a tree has been topped, it may produce numerous small, weakly attached branches that are prone to breakage. These branches can also sprout from the cut stump, leading to a dense cluster of new growth that is unsightly and difficult to manage.
  3. Aesthetics: Tree topping results in an unsightly tree that is often misshapen and disfigured. The tree’s natural form and beauty are compromised, and it can take many years for the tree to regain its natural shape.
  4. Safety: Topped trees can pose a safety hazard to people and property. The new growth that sprouts after topping is often weak and prone to breakage, which can create a hazard for both people and property.
tree topping example in St. Louis

Why Jackson Tree Service

It is important to note that crown reduction should only be performed by a qualified arborist, as improper pruning can cause serious damage to the tree and increase the risk of disease and decay. Additionally, pruning should be done in a way that preserves the tree’s natural shape and avoids creating large, unsightly wounds that can lead to decay and disease. That’s why if you have any concerns about your tree, always consult a tree service expert like Jackson Tree Service regardless of the time of year. However, if there are no major threats, it’s best to wait until winter to do any major trimming. Not only will it save you money, but it will also protect the health of your trees so you can enjoy them during all seasons for years to come.

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