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Tree Trimming in Denver: Why Topping Isn’t Recommended

November 1, 2017

Landscaping professionals often discuss the importance of tree trimming in Denver, but it’s important to understand that tree topping is not an effective method of tree trimming. Tree topping is the process of cutting large branches down to stubs in order to reduce the overall size of the tree. Basically, topping removes the entire crown of the tree. Topping can do much more harm than good, which is why this practice must be avoided at all costs. Here are some of the many reasons why tree topping is not recommended:

Causes Starvation

No more than one-third of the tree’s leaves are removed when the tree is trimmed properly. However, tree topping typically removes 100% of the leaves. This creates a problem since the leaves are responsible for producing food that the tree needs to survive. As a result, the tree will temporarily starve until it is able to grow new branches and leaves that are capable of producing food. Learn how trees make food for themselves.

Rapid Growth

Many people top their trees because the trees are too large and need to be trimmed down so they don’t brush against a home or power lines. But, a tree that has been topped will go through a stage of rapid growth, which defeats the whole purpose of topping the tree in the first place. In addition, the new branches that grow after a tree has been topped are not anywhere near as strong as normal tree branches. This means that not only will the tree be back to the size it once was fairly quickly, but it will also be much weaker than it was before it was topped. A strong windstorm could be enough to break these branches, which could then fall on top of power lines, your car, or home. Therefore, it is a mistake to think that topping a tree is a good way to deal with a tree that is too large or branches that could be a safety hazard.

Produces Unattractive Trees

Lush, green trees can completely transform the look of a yard, but unfortunately, tree topping rips away a tree’s beauty. Topping leaves only the trunk and the short stubs of the tree’s branches behind, so the tree is no longer attractive. Having trees with short and stubby branches can make the rest of your home look more unattractive as a result. The branches and leaves will eventually start to grow back on trees that have been topped. But, this does not mean that the tree will regain its original beauty. A topped tree’s shape will never return to what it once was, so even when the leaves and branches have grown back, the tree will not be as beautiful as it was before it was topped. To protect the curb appeal of your home, choose tree trimming instead of tree topping.

Sun Damage

The leaves on a tree typically act as a shield to protect the tree from the sun. When the tree is topped, the leaves are removed and the tree is exposed to direct sunlight for the first time. Depending on the amount and intensity of sunlight, it’s possible that this direct exposure could damage the tree’s tissues similarly to how sunlight damages our skin. If the sunburn is severe, the tree’s bark could start to split.  

Vulnerable to Decay, Pests, and Disease

Tree trimming creates small wounds that the tree can typically repair on its own. But, tree topping creates a lot of large wounds that are often difficult for the tree to close on its own. The inner bark that is exposed due to these wounds will eventually start to decay, which will affect the overall health and stability of the tree.

That’s not all. The large wounds that are created through tree topping can also make the tree vulnerable to pests and disease. Pests and diseases can easily make their way inside the tree these wounds, and because the tree is in a weakened state, it will not have the ability to fight off an infestation. If this happens, the decision to top a tree could lead to the complete loss of the tree. Once this tree has been infested, the pests or disease could spread to other trees in your yard as well.

High Costs

Even if tree topping did not cause significant damage to a tree, it would still not be recommended because of the high costs associated with this practice. Why is it so expensive? As previously mentioned, topped trees are unattractive. Having these trees in your yard could reduce the value of your home, which is important to know if you are thinking of selling in the near future.

It’s also more expensive to maintain a topped tree than it is to trim trees on a regular basis. As soon as a topped tree begins to grow out, it will need to be trimmed in order to undo some of the damage caused by topping. However, some trees will never make it to this stage because they are too weak to survive after topping. If the tree dies because it was topped, it is your responsibility to pay to have the tree removed.

Topped trees can also be expensive because they are liability risks. The weakened branches that grow on a topped tree could fall at any moment. If one of these branches falls on a person, car, or home, you will be liable for any damage that it causes.

As you can see, there are many issues that may arise if the trees in your yard are topped instead of trimmed. To learn more about proper tree trimming techniques, talk to the experts. Arbor Garden is a locally owned and operated tree services company that specializes in tree pruning, removing, stump removal, planting, and pest management. We will be happy to help you plant new trees in your lawn. Contact us today to learn more about our tree and integrated pest management services and receive a free estimate.