International Society of Arboriculture

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Little Known or Interesting Factoids About Trees and Tree Physiology

Karen Rockoff is the primary contact 
Jim is in the hospital & will take calls through Karen.

Karen Rockoff is the only ISA certified
arborist with

BEWARE- There are other persons fraudulently representing These persons are not authorized or licensed to use the name or inject with the chemjet system. Please contact Karen Rockoff immediately if these persons attempt to solicit these services. 

Contact:  Cell: 830.955.0304
                     Karen Rockoff  Arborist  - TDA Certified

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Very Special Trees 
My Tree Live Oak Tree

My Tree
Topping Trees is Awful           
s Bad News      -     It's very irresponsible    -    Don't  do it !

There are some tree service companies that promote and practice this drastic form of "pruning." Apparently, a short tree is thought to be safer and healthier than a tall tree regardless of how the result is attained. In fact, topping a tree in this manner is one of the worst things man can do to trees. A professional, well informed and responsible tree service should advise his customer of the hazards of Tree Topping and refuse to be part of this kind of a butchery practice. It should not be just for the money thing or the excuse,  the customer wanted me to do it. That is just plain ignorance and totally unprofessional.

Professional arborists have the ability to make the tree look more attractive, safer, and even smaller, with appropriate effective pruning. The principles of proper pruning are to restrict growth in one area and encourage it in others, as well as to remove damaged or dead limbs. Pruning encourages growth, improves flower and fruit production, improves plant health, repairs damage and helps add aesthetic appeal to a tree. See link below, "How To Prune Trees"

If the height of a tree has to be reduced because of storm damage or interference with electrical wires, it can be correctly done by a method called crown reduction or drop crotch pruning. The procedure involves the removal of a main leader or main branch at the point of attachment of a lateral branch. The final cut should be parallel to the lateral branch bark ridge without cutting into the bark ridge. The lateral branch should be at least one-third the size of the branch or leader that is being removed.
Topping is an unacceptable pruning practice that can lead to stress, decay, root rot and hazardous conditions in trees. Even so, hundreds of trees are topped, headed, or rounded over every year in the Texas Hill Country because a homeowner may feel that a tree has become too large. Topping occurs when tree branches are cut back leaving stubs or lateral branches that are not large enough to assume normal growth. Crown reduction by topping does not work, and can injure a tree in several ways. Educating the customer is when the professional tree service really earns his money.

                Topping reduces the leaf-bearing crown of a tree by 50-100%, thereby removing most or all of the food-producing capabilities it may have. New buds become active and rapidly growing shoots develop at each cut to make up for the sudden loss of leaves. This will stress the tree by depleting any stored food reserves and making it vulnerable to insect and disease attacks. The sudden exposure of the inner branches and trunk to high levels of sunlight can also lead to injury of the wood tissues. Proper pruning would remove no more than 25-30% of the leaf-bearing crown.

                Large wounds take longer to close over, and stubs will decay when a topping cut is made. Proper pruning cuts are made just beyond the branch collar near the branch's point of attachment. Such pruning cuts are usually smaller and less numerous, and results in more rapid wound closure by callus tissue so that the bark's continuity is eventually re-established. When a branch is correctly pruned at its point of attachment to the trunk just outside of the branch collar and the branch bark ridge, internal decay is usually stopped from progressing into the trunk by a protective chemical barrier inside the collar.  Branch stubs produced by topping harbor decay fungi which eventually break down the barrier in the collar and then proceed into the trunk. Whenever a cut is made in the main leader by topping, there is nothing to prevent decay from developing in the trunk. The tree may be structurally weakened and its useful life span reduced.

                The shoots that develop below a topping are only weakly attached to the outermost wood layers, unlike normal branches that are anchored deeper in the wood tissues. These shoots, which can grow 10-20 feet per year, are much more subject to breaking. The tree becomes a hazard and a potential liability to the tree's owner. Although hazardous conditions could take some time to develop, the owner may still be held liable even years after the topping occurred. The tree service company should consider serious legal council as well, as they too can also be held liable for any and all damages to property or to humans.
                Topped trees often require pruning again in only a few years to remove shoots and decayed areas. The trees appear disfigured and lose their natural graceful form. Properly pruned and maintained trees leave little or no indication that pruning even occurred, and can add 10-20% to property values.

                 If a tree's crown must be reduced in size or thinned, proper pruning cuts will avoid the problems mentioned above. Never should more than 1/3 of the crown be removed. Selected branches should be removed back to their point of attachment, or to a lateral branch that is at least 1/3 the diameter of the branch being removed without leaving stubs.

                Responsible tree professionals and arborists must demonstrate knowledge of proper tree care practices and carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. Always ask for the tree expert, or arborist for references, and proof of current insurance. A written contract of work to be performed, as well as a receipt.
  See below:  " How To Hire a Tree Service."
In summary of the adverse effects of topping are:
  • Topping removes a major portion of a tree's leaves which are necessary for the production of carbohydrates.
  • Once-shaded bark in the canopy becomes scalded by exposure to direct sunlight, also lead to injury of the wood tissues causing decay and fungal infections.
  • Stubs are likely to attract wood-boring insects.
  • Stubbing stimulates the development of watersprouts just below the cut. These shoots grow rapidly, causing a topped tree to grow back to its original height faster and denser than a properly pruned tree. The watersprouts are also weakly attached and are easily broken off in storms.
  • Root damage will not be visibly apparent for two or three years. 

Healthy trees are an asset. They provide shade, habitat for birds, and can increase the value of your property. This information is provided to help the Homeowner and Tree Care Professional to care and protect the trees in our community.

What can you do to stop topping? Some people are taking steps to protect the trees in their communities. Communities can pass tree ordinances that prohibit topping street trees and prohibit planting of large, weak-wooded trees. Requiring arborists and tree workers to be certified also helps. It may also help if we tell our friends and neighbors that topping is harmful.
In England, the tree in your back yard belongs to you, however it benefits the entire community. In order to do any pruning or removal on trees a permit is required from the town council as trees are endangered and are considered as a very valuable as part of their communities.
Photo Gallery  - TOPPING TREES

Beautiful, Majestic Pecan trees mutilated by the stroke of a chain saw !
click on pictures below for the full view

1) Topping removes a major
portion of a tree's
leaves which are necessary for the
production of carbohydrates.

2) Once-shaded bark in the canopy becomes scalded by exposure
to direct sunlight.

3) Topping leads to injury of the wood tissues causing decay and fungal infections.

4) Stubs are likely to attract wood-boring insects. Root damage will not be visibly apparent for two or three years.


Fig. 5

Fig. 6

 5-6) Healthy, vigorous Pecan Trees unharmed and in their natural majestic beauty.

All Photo Credits: Jim Rediker

International Society of Arboricultural -
How to Hire a Tree Service -

Karen Rockoff is the primary contact 
Jim is in the hospital & will take calls through Karen.
Karen Rockoff is the only ISA certified arborist

Contact:  Cell: 830.955.0304
                     Karen Rockoff  Arborist  - TDA Certified
e mail:


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