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Don't 'TOP' Your Trees

With the summer storm season upon us, many homeowners are worried about the condition of their trees and may think topping your trees is a good way to storm proof your trees. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Topping is the indiscriminate cutting of branches to stubs. Sure trees taht have been topped can survive storms. That is because they have NO crown left. You should never remove more than 1/3 of a tree's crown. Topping limits the trees ability to get food. The stubs that are left often rot at the ends and can attract insects that may harm the tree. These stubs may develop new shoots that rapidly grow on the decaying stub. This growth defeats the whole reason you topped the tree in the first place. The reduced crown starves the tree, allows the sun's heat to scald it, lets fungi and insects enter which may the tree weaker and looks terrible. 

Besides being unsightly and just plain ugly, topping harms the tree more than any other misinformed practice. Proper pruning techniques such as crown reduction will provide storm protection while protecting the health of your tree. Skill and good judgement is needed to properly prune your tree. The International Society of Arboriculture lists certified arborists in our area. Go to for more information or a list of arborists. Or, for more information, contact Lake County Forester, Chris Otremba with the Fl. Division of Foresty at 352-360-6676. Photo Credit:  IFAS Website.

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