Landscape Fail ~ Tree Topping

camel bad hair

Good god man, what happened to your hair??

Tree topping is a serious NO!

I mean, mulch volcanoes are pretty bad, but anyone can pile mulch up against the trunk. Tree topping, however involves someone that knows how to climb trees, thus ass-u-ming they may have been around professionals that would know how very wrong this is.

Tree topping is when the leader (the lead/tallest limb) is abruptly pruned and/or the tree is heavily incorrectly pruned. Unless the tree is very young and a new leader can be trained to grow upright, there may be structural problems in the near future.

The tree will try to recover from it’s loss of leaves by growing ‘sucker branches’ which are grown in defense from the leaf loss. Sucker branches don’t make flowers, so they are not aesthetic and serve very little use for the tree. These branches are from buds that had been held back from growing by the tree because they were too close to the barks surface to attach correctly, thus they tend to break off in the slightest wind.

Trees that have been fully pruned like this don’t have the ability to compartmentalize all the wounds efficiently, causing the larger limbs to become unstable and fall.

Many times the tree’s bark will become sun scald which opens up the bark to cankers and other pathogens.



There are safe and humane ways to reduce the size of your trees, by using ‘Crown Reduction’ methods.

crown reduction
Β© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

38 thoughts on “Landscape Fail ~ Tree Topping

  1. I hear ya… they do it everywhere here…. the trees look like the botanical twin or Don King now :o( and it is really scary to see them in the headlights of the car at night…. before glasses I stopped to let the “old lady” cross the street… ooooh man :o(

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Woe be to the tree that grows so near the road that its branches threaten utility lines! We have a maple tree in our front yard that Duke Energy’s tree trimmers (or, more accurately, tree butchers) turned into such a lopsided umbrella that there’s no way a branch will ever come within ten feet of a wire, yet they come back every few years and “top” it some more. What’s more, Duke’s crews speak no English, so unless you’re fluent in Spanish, you can’t even question them. Ay, caramba!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, utility tree workers are hack jobs. They could (if wanted to) do a great job, but mostly they just hack off what they feel like.
      Sadly, the trees in my pix were not near wires, so those choppers have no excuse!


  3. Not to mention it’s just really ugly and an eyesore. My husband once had to call up the power company and make them finish the job after they murdered one of his trees that had been there for years.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Then you would cry if you saw what our neighbour did to the tall evergreen in his yard. He simply loped off the top half of the tree because he didn’t like the shade it was throwing in his yard.

    Do you know what an evergreen tree looks like with the top half missing? Very odd and very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG. .. I’d be that crying Indian a few posts back!
      Seeing trees cut in odd ways is common to me. The hard part is when I’m asked to do it at work. It’s hard to say no to folks with money. They think that money buys all. I had a client that wanted square trees. Yup, square. I had to think fast to save them. Since this was after we had planted them, I told her these wouldn’t make a square, she should have told me before planting as it wasn’t the right species to shape. Although it would have cost about $30,000 to replace the 4 she had, she almost went for it. Gaaa! That was close.


    • Life is tough and many things still find a way to survive. Trees store so much energy in their roots. They do get a few do overs with growing some limbs back. The new growth is just very weak and when they share our space, things can get broken when those weak limbs fall 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Butchery is butchery. Yikes! It makes me cringe to see the amazingly dumbass things otherwise responsible humanoids will do to trees sometimes. ‘If you top us, do we not bleed?!’ So glad that plants often survive the indignities we visit upon them. And perhaps best of all, that many of those same trees so ill-treated will go on to outlive generations of pruning-happy idiots. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

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