Avoiding Common Tree Mistakes

Avoiding Common Tree Mistakes

5 Steps To Help A Topped Tree Recover

by Chiara Brun

Tall trees in the yard can be beautiful, but often they are pruned incorrectly in an attempt to control the tree height. The process of cutting the top of the tree flat, called topping, can be highly detrimental to a tree's health.

1. Wait Until Next Season

Don't act too quickly after topping, as the tree needs time to begin recovery from the over-pruning stress. Allow at least one year of growth, as those new branches that will sprout up are the key to recovery. Recovery pruning is typically done in late winter to early spring, beginning at least one year after the initial topping.

2. Choose New Leaders

Each topped branch nub will likely send out several whip-like shoots from just below the remaining buds along the branch. These shoots aren't very attractive or strong at this point, but a few of them can become quite sturdy. Choose about three of these shoots per nub to be the new framework branches for the crown. When selecting shoots, opt for one that is nearly vertical and then two that emerge at evenly spaced upward angles. 

3. Prune Out the Competition

The tree may require ongoing sucker and waterspout control throughout the year, especially for the first few years after the topping mishap. Excess shoots will lead to weak new branches, which means the tree will be unable to recover from topping. During the first couple of springs following the first restoration prune, expect new shoots to try and emerge from the branch nub. Simply snip these off close to their base whenever they begin to grow in.

4. Encourage Quick Growth

The severity of a topping and the stress of recovery can weaken a tree, making it more prone to pest or disease problems. Nutrient deficiency can also be common due to the need for regrowth and recovery. Work with your tree service to develop an irrigation and fertilizing plan to encourage health. Further, monitor for any signs of pests or disease on the tree so that problems can be recognized and treated early.

5. Develop a Maintenance Plan

Once recovery is complete, you need a plan to make sure the tree doesn't grow too tall again. Depend on a professional tree service to provide a better option. Trimming lightly once a year, for example, can help keep a tree from growing beyond its current height. If power lines are an issue, your service may determine that a few branch removal from the interior of the crown is all that's needed to ensure safety.

Contact a tree pruning service for help with topped tree recovery.


About Me

Avoiding Common Tree Mistakes

I have always been one of those people who isn't afraid to get their hands dirty, which is why I started trimming my own trees. However, after doing it by myself for a few years, I realized that my yard was starting to look a little DIY, which wasn't the look that I was going for. To make things right, I decided to invest in a professional tree service who could come out and fix up my yard. They were amazing to work with, and they even came with all of their own equipment. This blog is all about the benefits of professional tree care, versus doing things on your own.