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Should Trees be Topped When You Prune Them?

I am doing some winter pruning. Should I “top” my trees to prevent storm damage?

crepe myrtle treetop

Answer: Topping trees, or cutting off the top of the tree and/or any large branches that could become a growth leader, usually into “stubs,” actually can harm your tree, rather than help it. The new growth that will sprout from the stubs will be weaker, and more easily damaged by storms and wind.

Topping trees can essentially cause your once strong sturdy plants to not just deteriorate, but die as a result of not being able to repair the damages of the deeply cut branches.

Storm damage is a risk that our lush, branchy trees face; however, trying to prevent harm to our trees, through topping, can result in more injury. Furthermore, once the storm-damaged tree tries to recover, with out proper nourishment and resources, that recovery is hindered. Your trees need their foliage to help nourish any regrowth, and topping trees can reduce the amount of foliage produced.

In conclusion, topping trees to prevent storm damage, is not a safe solution and could potentially result in even further destruction of your trees. Recovery of topped trees, usually never is 100 percent and your tree may never regain the original stunning, vivacious beauty it once possessed.

Image: Berean Hunter
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