Topping trees is the cutting of tree tops and branches to stubs. The Most commonly used reason is to reduce the size of a tree because it’s dangerous. The reality is that topping trees often makes trees more dangerous.
These are reasons not to top.
- Height reduction and hazard reduction are short term.
- Topping stresses the tree, making it more susceptible to disease and decay
- Causes decay- stubs left at the top of the trunk and at ends of branches will decay, this decay then undermines the strength of the tree as it grows branches back.
- New growth is in the form of water sprouts. These are weakly attached on surface of the tree and grow vigorously. Fast growth and not well attached to the tree = increased risk of failure.
- Topped trees look ugly, which decreases property value
- Cost of tree topping is not a one time fee, there is an increased maintenance cost overtime
- Tree foliage grows uncontrollably, growth is accelerated.
- Tree structure is destroyed for life of that tree.
Alternatives to topping:
- Cut branches back to branch collar on trunk of tree or
- Cut branch back to a lateral 1/3 diameter of main limb or larger.
- Remove tree and replace with appropriate sized tree
Protecting trees during construction
Often people build homes, pools, drive-ways, out-buildings, or other structures near trees. The construction activity can have lasting bad impacts on a trees health and stability. Here are some things to avoid:
- Damage to trunk and/or braches by heavy equipment
- Compaction of soil within the drip-line of the tree
- Cutting of root system by trenching
- Adding soil within the drip-line of the tree, especially against the trunk
All the damage caused by the factors above will not be evident for years, but they will significantly reduce the vitality and shorten the life of trees. Here is what you can do. Consult with an arborist during the planning phase of your project. The arborist can meet with the contractor and help plan the job to best accommodate your trees, monitor tree preservation measures, install protective fencing, and advise on post construction phase (landscaping, irrigation, fertilizing, etc.)
- Select a good tree from the nursery
- Avoid large trees in small pots and roots growing out of base of pot.
- Pull tree out of base of pot and check that roots are white, not brown or black: and that they are not thick growing in tight masses around the outside of the rootball.
- Buy trees free of damage to trunks with one single trunk (unless it is a supposed to be a multi-trunk variety).
- Find the first root that grows off the rootball. You may have to remove some soil and fine roots to find it. The hole should be dug only deep enough that this root will be 2 inches above the original soil grade (any deeper and tree will settle in time). Dig hole 2-3 times as wide as rootball. Do not use soil amendments in back-fill, only back-fill with soil that was dug out of hole.
- Stake tree only if necessary. Remove the stake that is attached directly to the tree; you want to stake the tree loosely from the sides so that it builds trunk strength by moving in the wind. Remove stakes as soon as the tree can stand independently.
Potential hazardous characteristics of trees
- Fungal decay organisms
- Tree crotches with included bark
- Root uplifting in trunk or scaffold limbs (branch unions) or heaving
- Cankers with cracked wood exposed
- Trees that are leaning more than 35 degrees
- Trees with large crowns and slender trunks
- Trees that have been previously topped
Pricing – There are two ways we go about pricing jobs
- An estimate, which includes: Total cost of treatment to trees, elimination of all debris (except stump-grindings) and a thorough cleanup. Wood appropriate for burning can be cut into fireplace lengths or removed. This cost is fixed and will not change unless the job changes in scope.
- Or an hourly/daily rate. We charge by the hour to do the tree work. This allows the client to prioritize which trees need the most work. Works best for our clients with larger properties or those with a lot of trees.
For do-it-yourselfers we offer lower pricing with the “cut and leave option”. Why not hire us for our knowledge and skill of pruning and removing trees. We then leave the disposal of the brush to you.