Risks Of Tree Topping in Edmonton

The Deadly Consequence: Why Topping a Tree in Edmonton Can Kill It

Trees are an invaluable part of our environment, providing various benefits such as clean air, shade, and beauty. As guardians of our planet, it is crucial to understand the importance of proper tree care. Unfortunately, an Edmonton tree topping service is a destructive method that often leads to their demise. We will explore why this harmful tree pruning practice can damage its structural integrity and the surrounding ecosystem.

Our expert Edmonton arborists at Trusty Tree Services are ISA certified and highly trained in maintaining healthy trees. We have put together this blog to inform property owners about the potential risks of tree toppings in Edmonton.

Understanding Biology

Before we explore the detrimental effects of tree topping, we must grasp some fundamental aspects of their biology. They rely on their larger branches with various amounts of leaves to manufacture a food source through photosynthesis. The foliage acts as "solar panels," absorbing sunlight and converting it into vital nutrients. When topping trees, a significant portion of its canopy (the upper part) is removed, severely limiting its ability to photosynthesize and generate food.

What Is Edmonton Tree Topping?

Tree topping refers to the indiscriminate cutting of a significant portion of the leafy crown or canopy, often leaving behind stubs or branches much smaller than the original limbs. Other names for topping include heading, pollarding, tipping, hat-racking, and rounding over. While topping trees is sometimes used to reduce the size, it is not a recommended method for addressing concerns about the potential risk to property due to the dangers it poses to it.

Edmonton Tree Topping Causes Stress and Vulnerability

Topping trees removes a significant portion of their crown, leaving severe wounds where the branches were cut. These exposed wounds expose the specimen to various threats, making it vulnerable to attacks by insects, disease infestations, and decay. Furthermore, its natural defense is compromised, making it more susceptible to infections that can spread throughout its system. Over time, this can lead to the decay of the trunk and branches, making it structurally weak and prone to rot, failure, and death.

Edmonton Tree Topping Causes Starvation and Decline

With its food production significantly reduced, a topped tree becomes starved of the essential nutrients to thrive. In response to this stress, it may undergo a survival mechanism and deplete its stored energy reserves to regenerate its canopy by producing numerous shoots, known as suckers and water sprouts. These living plant organisms need an adequate leaf surface area to make enough food to sustain themselves. Topping trees forces them to decline due to reduced photosynthesis, increased vulnerability to pests and diseases, weakened structure, and limited nutrient availability. Over time, this nutritional deficiency weakens the specimen, leading to stunted growth and decay. As its health continues to deteriorate, it becomes increasingly susceptible to secondary issues, such as infestations of insects or pathogens. In severe cases, it may not recover from the stresses imposed by topping and eventually succumb to death.

Edmonton Tree Topping Causes Sunburn

Did you know plants can get sunburnt just like people? It's true! Bark and upright branches protect against intense sunlight, helping to regulate temperature and prevent sunburn. When tree topping occurs, removing the protective canopy exposes the remaining branches and trunk to direct sunlight. This sudden exposure to intense light can cause sunburn damage to the bark tissues, leading to cracking, scorching, cankers, bark splitting, and blistering. Moreover, the damaged bark inhibits the flow of nutrients and water through its vascular system, further compromising its health and putting it at risk of developing long-term health issues.

Edmonton Tree Topping Causes Invasive Suckering

Tree topping initiates a survival response to compensate for the lost foliage and canopy by producing numerous shoots, known as suckers or water sprouts. These fast-growing shoots are an attempt to regain their lost foliage. While these shoots may seem like a sign of recovery, the excessive growth of these shoots comes at a cost. They are weakly attached and are more likely to break off during storms or high winds. Additionally, the rapid growth of suckers diverts energy away from essential functions, such as root growth and defense against insect invasion and diseases, further weakening and inhibiting its natural growth pattern.

Edmonton Tree Topping Causes Negative Environmental Impact

All plants play a critical role in maintaining a healthy environment. They provide shade, filter air pollutants, mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon dioxide, and create habitats for numerous species. Topping trees disrupts the ecosystem's delicate balance, affecting wildlife habitat, reducing shade, and altering microclimates.

Edmonton Tree Topping Causes Ugly Trees

Along with negatively impacting the environment, topping trees leaves behind ugly aesthetics. These beautiful specimens grow in diverse patterns and structures to maximize sunlight exposure through their leaves. Tree topping removes the upper branches, resulting in ugly stubs and no foliage for a considerable duration in a temperate climate like Edmonton. Topping trees disrupt their natural shape, making them disfigured and unattractive, compromising their natural form. Consequently, once it has been topped, it can never fully restore its original natural form. This impacts the overall aesthetic appeal of the landscape and reduces your property value.

Edmonton Tree Topping is Expensive

Tree topping incurs more than just the initial job cost. There are additional hidden costs to consider:

  • Increased maintenance expenses: If a topped specimen survives, it will likely require corrective pruning in the following years, such as crown reduction or repair due to storm damage. In the unfortunate event that it dies, it must be removed entirely, incurring expensive costs.
  • Decreased property value: Healthy and well-maintained landscaping contributes significantly to the value of a property, typically adding 10-20% to its overall worth. However, disfigured aesthetics are considered a future expense, negatively impacting the property's value.
  • Heightened liability potential: Tree topping often presents an unacceptable level of risk. Since tree topping is widely regarded as an improper pruning practice, any damage caused by branch failure can lead to a finding of negligence in a court of law, potentially resulting in legal and financial repercussions.

Alternative Methods to Topping Trees

It is sometimes necessary to reduce the height or spread of a woody plant, especially when it poses a challenge to utility lines. Instead of tree topping, however, employing alternative practices, such as proper pruning techniques by qualified arborists, is recommended. Proper pruning cuts that focus on selective branch removal, maintaining the specimen's natural form, and preserving its health are more beneficial in the long run. When dealing with smaller branches, removing them from their point of origin is advised. In the case of larger limbs requiring shortening, they should be pruned back to a lateral branch that is sufficiently large (one-third the diameter of the limb being removed) to take over as the end branch. Reducing branches helps maintain the natural shape, form, and health.

A certified arborist will perform a proper method of pruning on a mature tree by:

  1. Creating an undercut approximately 12–18 inches (30–46 cm) away from the joint of the limb.
  2. Making a second cut from the top, directly above the undercut or a few inches further out on the limb. This cut will remove the limb, leaving a stub.
  3. Eliminating the remaining stub by cutting back to the branch collar. This technique minimizes the risk of bark tearing and damage.

These pruning cuts promote healthy growth and minimize potential damage. In certain situations, the optimal solution may involve the drastic removal of tall trees and replacing them with a more suitable species.

No More Tree Topping in Edmonton

By understanding the destructive practice and negative consequences associated with tree topping, we can make informed decisions about their care and take steps to preserve their well-being while keeping our city of Edmonton beautiful. By respecting and nurturing these species, we contribute to the well-being of our environment for future generations. Instead of topping trees, consult with certified experts who can provide appropriate pruning techniques that promote tree health and longevity and maintain their natural beauty.

What is a Certified Arborist?

ISA Certified Arborists® are tree care professionals certified through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), a globally recognized organization that promotes proper care and management. An ISA Certified Arborist® is a professional arborist who has undergone extensive training, which usually includes education, practical experience, and passing an exam on tree care to demonstrate their expertise in arboriculture. The certification covers a wide range of topics related to tree care, such as biology, pruning techniques, risk assessment, health management, identification, and more.

ISA Certified Arborists® have the knowledge and skills to provide professional tree care services. They are trained in best practices for planting, pruning, maintenance, and preservation. They are familiar with different species of trees, especially around the Edmonton area, are aware of potential health issues, and can make informed decisions regarding management and preservation.

When seeking qualified arborist services, looking for the ISA Certified Arborist® credential is recommended to indicate their expertise and commitment to following the industry standards and practices.

Hire Edmonton's Trusty Tree Services for Expert Knowledge and Service!

With years of experience in the local industry and a team of skilled arborists, Trusty Tree Services provides high-quality service in Edmonton and surrounding areas. Our family-owned company in Sherwood Park prioritizes safety and compliance with provincial laws. We offer stump removal, trimming, cabling & bracing, landscape care, deep root fertilizing, and more. With affordable rates and a commitment to customer satisfaction, we are the top choice for residential and commercial customers. Our ISA-certified arborists ensure expert service and peace of mind. Call 780-860-5500 to book your free consultation in Edmonton, AB, today!

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