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What Is Tree Topping and Why Is It Bad?

Trees are valuable assets at your property. Not only do they provide shade, but they also provide beauty and definition to your home or business. Trees provide a sense of charm and maturity and they can even improve the resale value of your home or commercial property.

Given how valuable trees are, why then do so many property owners haphazardly maintain their trees? Some owners prune improperly and others “top” their trees, which is an incredibly harmful maintenance tactic that can put your trees at risk.

This article will look at what tree topping is and why tree topping is bad and then provide some sound alternatives to tree topping. When you avoid this practice and pursue more appropriate avenues for maintaining your trees, you help your trees reach their full potential — and you help enhance the value of your property.

What Is Tree Topping?

What is tree topping? It’s basically the indiscriminate chopping of branches and limbs to lower the height of a tree. The process of tree topping might also be called tipping, heading, rounding over or hat-racking.

There are two main reasons why tree topping should be avoided.

First, the tree topping process leaves your trees with unstable limbs that are often too weak to withstand the wind and other natural rigors. Second, the tree topping process robs your trees of their natural beauty — they are often left looking barren and unnatural.

Given this description of tree topping, why would anyone choose to do it? For a number of reasons, each of which persists because of convenience and a lack of knowledge about the consequences.

Why Do People Choose to Top Trees?

No one wants weak and unstable trees. So why choose topping? A number of things lead property owners to have their trees topped — or to do the topping themselves:

  • Lines and Wires: Perhaps the main reason people top their trees is to keep them away from power lines and wires. Trees encroaching on lines and wires are often seen as a far greater threat than the actual topping of trees and the related consequences.
  • Storms: Some property owners see tall, thick tree branches and limbs as fall damage waiting for the next heavy storm to happen. What's ironic about this reasoning is that topping trees actually removes branches that have grown to withstand harsher weather conditions. The topping process actually leaves you with weaker branches which are more prone to failure.
  • Home Encroachment: Trees are often topped to prevent their encroachment on a house or other structure. Limbs and branches can harm siding, roofs, windows and other home features, so property owners top trees to quickly remove that threat.
  • Views: Some property owners top trees to prevent them from blocking views. Perhaps you have a lake view from a second story, but trees have grown just tall enough to block it. It might seemingly make sense to top the trees and restore your view — but this actually does grave danger to the trees.

Why Is Tree Topping Bad?

Is topping bad for trees? The answer is a resounding “yes.” Perhaps the two main reasons are that you destabilize branches and give your trees a barren, unnatural appearance. But you also remove precious leaves from your trees, which means you’re taking away a tree’s valuable food source.

Shorter limbs are far more prone to disease, decay and attacks from insects. Also, when you choose to top trees, you start an unsustainable cycle. The tree’s branches will eventually grow back (though perhaps weaker) and you’ll again need to top the tree to get the desired benefit.

Over time, this unsustainable cycle can overly weaken your trees and lead to their demise.

What Are the Alternatives to Tree Topping?

How should you handle topping situations? The good news is that you can employ alternatives to tree topping. Those alternatives are going to be unique to your location and situation, but know that you can pursue other ways of keeping branches and limbs off your power lines and home as well as other ways to safely prevent trees from blocking appealing views.

The key is to find a certified arborist who can provide the guidance and advice you need. An experienced arborist can provide a fast and comprehensive assessment of your situation, recommend actions and help draw up a path forward to meet your objectives without putting your trees at risk.

Get Support From Richard’s Tree Service

Do you need tree pruning services in VA? Perhaps you’ve been convinced that you need alternatives to tree topping rather than indiscriminately hacking away. If so, you can count on our team

We’ve been serving Northern Virginia home and business owners, as well as home and business owners in the D.C. area, since 1996. Our team includes nothing but certified arborists, which means you’re getting support from highly knowledgeable and incredibly skilled tree experts who know how to meet your needs while also protecting the safety and long-term health of your trees.

There’s no obligation to get started. We provide free quotes and assessments when you’re looking for alternatives to tree topping. And you don’t even need to be present. We can stop by your home or property at any time, take a look at what you’re dealing with and then make our recommendations and provide an estimate on related costs available to you. You’ll get a sense of the appropriate way to prune your trees and how much it will cost — plus, there’s no obligation or in-person appointment to clutter your schedule.

Your trees are highly valuable assets that can’t be easily replaced. When you choose alternatives to tree topping, you’re choosing the right way to prevent trees from encroaching on structures, wires and views. You’re also making a small investment now to ensure that your trees and the property on which they sit reach their full potential over the your term of residence. Take care of your trees and make sure your property looks its best when you choose Richard’s Tree Service for proper tree pruning in VA and throughout the D.C. area.

Contact us today for a free quote and assessment of trees on your property.

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