Don't Lop That Tree Top! Why Lopping Your Tall Tree Isn't the Answer
Tall trees are a thing of beauty. There is nothing so satisfying as stepping outside your home before work in the morning to admire your mature tree, its majestic canopy dominating the skyline. However, trees can sometimes become a hazard when they grow too tall, when near power lines for example or if a tree regularly sheds branches.
When a tree grows too tall for comfort, as the tree owner, you might consider lopping off the top of the tree to be the answer. But while lopping the head off your tree in the name of safety might solve your current issue, you'll soon be faced with several other issues that will leave you regretting your decision.
Topping Makes Trees Weaker
Trees depend on their leaves for food. As they grow, they know exactly how many additional branches and leaves they need in order to provide enough food. Through photosynthesis, they gain enough nutrients to transfer to their root system, which in turn sends up water to keep the tree well nourished.
However, if the tree no longer has any leaves because its top has been lopped off, it can no longer feed itself. Therefore, you have a tree that is still substantially large, however, it has no way to harvest food. If it has enough food stored in its roots, it will quickly grow new branches and leaves to get the nourishment it needs. However, these branches will be weaker, and the tree itself may eventually weaken and die.
Topped Trees Are Dangerous
If a topped tree doesn't die, then it will likely become even more of a hazard than it already was. The new branches that it sprouts in response to losing its top will grow quickly, perhaps as much as six metres in a year. However, these new branches are weaker than the tree's original branches and will break much more easily as a result.
Given time, if they grow to a sufficient size, these branches could become serious threats to your safety in high winds.
A Topped Tree is an Ugly Tree
When a tree is topped, it loses its natural shape. Rather than having a pleasing canopy that resembles a broccoli top, a topped tree appears stunted and frail. It certainly won't add any value to a property, nor will it be able to provide adequate shade—at least not for a long time.
A much better alternative would be to have the tree removed. You could then replace it with something that won't become a hazard due to its great height, such as a weeping pear tree or Japanese flowering cherry tree. Don't lop your tree's head off. Get in touch with your council and inform them of the danger posed by your tree. Then remove it and replace it by getting in touch with an arborist.