Today I made an image of a job that my crew and I accomplished the other day. The job description was to make the tree “smaller”. Crown reduction is the specific term on how to make a tree smaller. Please do not confuse this term with “topping”. Topping is a negligent way to get the job done.
The image above is of a topped trees. This is not the proper way to reduce a tree’s size. The rule of thumb is that you cannot reduce a tree’s crown by more than 25% in one year. Topping sometimes removes over 50% in one year.
Why is topping so harmful ?
- The tree will go into shock. The crown of a tree shields the tree from harmful sun rays and the bark below will feel the effects from the drastic change in form.
- The tree will starve. By removing the crown of a tree you are also removing most of the leaves. The leaves are the food producers of a tree. Without the leaves the tree cannot produce food for itself.
- The sprouts that will grow out of a topped tree are weakly attached.
- The topped tree will go into a state of rapid growth after topping. The tree will produce new growth at a remarkable rate. This will lead to a thicker and denser crown that will reach it’s old height in a short time.
- Topping is cheaper and done more quickly. Topping a tree is a lot easier than applying the skill of good pruning. The real cost applies to the homeowner. Those costs include, loss or property value, cost of replacing the tree if it dies, increased future maintenance of trees, and replacement of surround trees and shrubs that die because of changes in light conditions.
Aside from all the adverse effects topping does to a tree’s health, it’s just down right ugly!
The image below is that of a Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) being crown reduced. Crown reduction is a gradual process, to limit the stress on a mature tree. I always like to say; old trees are like old people, they don’t like to be bothered. So by reducing the tree’s size slowly, it will have the smallest amount of stress applied to the tree. This tree should be reduced again next year to achieve the customers goals.