“Can we top this tree? Should we top this tree?”
Topping involves making (often radical) reductions in height that disrupt the natural growth pattern of the tree.
Firstly, if we can agree that nature generally has a reason to its design, then we likely don’t want to disrupt the natural form and growth patterns of the trees we care for.
Secondly, we must recognize that by doing so, we can compromise the long-term integrity of the tree by:
- creating internal structural defects
- introducing decay, pests or disease
- creating weak attachment points.
The conversation around topping can be a lengthy one but in short, topping is a temporary and ineffective solution that will actually make a tree more hazardous in the long run. It should be, at best, avoided, or at worst, undertaken in a carefully considered, intentional way.