Master Gardener’s Corner: Please do not top your trees

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Tree topping is not tree pruning. Topping is when you leave just a few large branches and remove the rest. This is bad for the tree and you.

Once the tree is topped it now reacts to the loss of leaves by going into an accelerated growth phase. The tree will use its stored energy instead of energy from the leaves. The use of stored energy creates stress and infection. Stored reserves in drought times may have to be used to grow new roots, now that the tree cannot use its energy for root growth. Stressed trees slowly recover but tree life may be shortened. 

There will be many weak branches sprouting from just beneath the topping cuts. The new growth resulting from these cuts will be prolific and now there may be even more leaves and twigs to rake. Weak branches break easily. During a mild storm, weak branches may fall and damage someone else’s property.

Many local municipalities have ordinances that regulate tree pruning as recommended by the Arbor Day Foundation. Our communities do not.

For more information go to; www.arborday.org; or for more gardening information go to; cecolusa.ucanr.edu ■