Does your yard resemble a ‘war zone’ of downed trees and limbs after the recent wind storms that swept across much of Washington?
High winds and rain-saturated soils can lead to damage to even the healthiest of trees. If you’re lucky, the storm removed the weakest limbs from your trees, and all you need to do now is prune and clean up debris.
If your tree suffered more than a little damage, you may need help. The Arbor Day Foundation has some excellent tree recovery tips.
Whatever you do, please don’t top your trees! There are much better ways to deal with damaged trees. Arborists and plant scientists agree that tree topping is bad tree management practice.
Topping is severely cutting and removing large branches in a mature tree. Trees cut back indiscriminately will respond by quickly growing multiple branch-like shoots that compete for dominance. The result is a bushy re-growth that will be the same size as the tree’s original height, but with weaker branches.
As shoots increase in weight, the branches of a topped tree become susceptible to breaking off during storms. They must be continually pruned to avoid potentially hazardous branch failures. Rather than creating a safer tree, topping can actually create a greater hazard.
The best answer is to consult a certified arborist for any tree care.
Certified arborists and other legitimate landscape professionals do not practice tree topping. If problems caused by a tree cannot be solved through acceptable management practices, the tree should be removed and replaced with a different tree or plant more appropriate for the site. (more…)