Butchering Trees......

Last week I drove by a yard and every tree in it had been completely "topped" off, leaving nothing but the trunk and a few stumps where branches used to grow. In years past I have been told that this is done to "rejuvenate" the tree and promote quicker growth, all the while cleaning up any dead branches that may still be up in the tree. Poor Elms.....

Simply put this is an old wives tale, a cheap way for people to make money, and a good way to kill a tree. By topping a tree you are forcing the tree to use all it's energy reserves to simply come out of dormancy, and try to put on some leaves to photosynthesize. A tree's leaves are it's heart and soul, they allow the tree to undergo photosynthesis which keeps the plant growing. So by cutting a tree's limbs off you are then forcing the tree to use up any energy reserves and root growth it was going to complete to simply leaf out. People also tell me that it helps the tree grow faster by "topping" them, and all I have to say is if you start from a bare tree in spring and by summer's end you have some five foot branches you're gonna be impressed.

Instead of "topping" trees may I suggest simply grooming them? All you really need to do is have your tree company come out and walk around your trees with you and discuss which branches you would like to prune out. By doing so you you can still clean up all the dead branches and wood from the top of the tree, prune out any undesirable branches, and still leave 75% of the tree in tact. I can assure you by not "topping" your trees and simply taking the time to prune out poorly grown branches and dead wood you will have a much healthier tree.

-Kaleb Metcalf

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