Tree topping vs tree crowning: What’s the difference?

Tree topping is the most harmful method of tree pruning practice. Even with all the evidence highlighting the damage caused by tree topping, it is still a procedure used by some tree surgeons. The antidote to tree topping is tree crowning, which is the considered practice of maintenance, aimed at keeping a tree healthy, strong and safe.

What is tree topping?

Tree topping is the indiscriminate cutting of tree branches down to stubs. It’s often used to reduce the size of a tree when homeowners or local authorities feel the tree has become too large or poses a risk. Tree topping does not reduce the risk of danger, it increases.

Why does tree topping increase the risk of danger?

The food warehouse of the tree is its leaves, by removing 50% or more if the tree’s leaf-bearing crown you’re essentially starving the tree. This can trigger a survival mechanism, activating dormant buds that force the rapid growth of shoots below each cut. If the tree does not have enough energy to complete this process it may die.

Wounds caused by tree topping leave the tree open to infestation. A tree that is weakened by topping and is depleted of energy may struggle to chemically defend against invasion. Further, a tree without a canopy or with an open wound can become sunburnt, leading to cracking.

Topped Trees

The alternative to tree topping is tree crowning

There are a range of tree pruning techniques available to tree surgeons that are non-intrusive but also have the life of the tree in their interest. Consider the ongoing cost of tree topping.

The tree topping process is very intensive, and after the work is performed, you’re likely to need more work because of the fast growth mechanism, triggered when cutting off major limbs. If the tree dies, it will need to be removed which is even more expensive.

However, there’s a long term cost involved. If the topped tree is in your own home and you’re looking to sell the house, a topped tree can be seen as an impending expense. The bigger worry is liability should the tree fall as a result of topping.

Discover the right way to manage your tree

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