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Why Tree Topping Hurts Trees

Tree topping involves the removal of large branches at the top of a tree, leaving a uniform, albeit unsightly, sheared-off set of branches that have been reverted to stumps. From there, the tree will respond by compensating and regrowing its branches more quickly, with less structure, and longer.

Why would somebody top their trees?

Often, it’s thought that by removing the tops of the trees, you can shorten a tree and control its growth. Perhaps the tree is creeping too close to a powerline, or the foliage appears to be overwhelming the tree (or may become dangerous on a windy day). However, topping will actually have the opposite effect on these.

Trees can become more susceptible to damage

Disease and bug infestations can occur in the tree more easily when they are topped. Chopping these branches causes large wounds to open, leaving them much more susceptible to diseases and infestations. This is a problem faced by trees in the winter, so tree topping can further exacerbate this.

In trees with great foliage or leafy protection, the sun can also cause further damage once that additional shade is removed from the tops of your trees.

It causes a disruption in the natural growth

When a tree’s branches are chopped down, it disrupts their natural state of growth and can actually cause more growth to happen – however, this occurs in the form of smaller, unruly branches that are much more plentiful and create a look of disarray at the end of the branches that were topped.

Ultimately, this is an issue for a few reasons. The tree becomes stressed, responding by quickly growing these new, weak branches that form knuckles and are prone to faster decay, allowing them to be displaced easily by weather conditions.

Tree damage may be irreversible

If a tree’s new, large wounds become infected, this could lead to tree decay. When the health of a tree is compromised, it could cause more work and more cost down the road, so it’s best to avoid tree topping no matter the initial reasoning.

What can be done instead?

If a tree needs to be controlled or reduced in size, pruning its branches is a great option. Winter is a great time to do this, as the tree is dormant. Without the bloom of leaves on the tree, it’s much easier to see and precisely cut the branches and trim down the tree.

If your tree has already been topped, a certified arborist may be able to provide some care to it, however it’s best to avoid doing this entirely. Give Kildonan Tree Service a call at (204)233-9337 or request a quote online; we can prune your trees for you and ensure they’ll continue looking (and growing) their best for both aesthetic, tree health, and the safety of both your property and those on the property.