Why Tree Topping is a Bad Idea
Tree topping is the practice of pruning trees by cutting off branches to mere stubs. This practice is often used simply to reduce the size of a tree. However, topping is not a positive method of reducing height of a tree and increases long term risk for the tree. Topping has many harmful consequences, including stressing the tree, leading to decay, and the tree getting sunburnt.
Topping usually removes over fifty percent of a tree’s leaf bearing crown. Leaves create food and feed trees, so removing them can trigger a tree’s natural survival mechanisms. It forces rapid growth of multiple shoots because the tree needs to produce a new crop of leaves as soon as possible. Since these shoots were forced to grow so quickly, they are much more prone to breaking, especially during cold conditions. If the tree does not get the reserved energy it could become extremely weakened and possibly die. A stressed tree can easily develop pruning wounds which makes the tree extremely vulnerable to insect infestations. The tree will most likely lack sufficient energy to protect against the invasion, so damage will likely occur.
If a tree is not properly pruned, the cuts will make the exposed wood tissue begin the decaying process. This will start to compartmentalize the decaying tree. When the majority of a tree’s leaves are removed, sun beats down on the open crown of the tree instead of the leaves that would normally absorb the sunlight. This can lead to sunburn of tissues underneath the bark as well as splitting and the death of branches. Tree topping is thought to be a positive thing but can overall kill or greatly decay your tree.