It’s time to trim, but don’t top those trees

The city of St. George is advising residents against the practice of topping trees, photo date and location not specified | Photo by Chris Brandt and courtesy of the city of St. George, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — As the weather starts getting warmer and people start venturing back outdoors, many homeowners start thinking about their landscaping again. However, when it comes to trees, the city of St. George is advising against the practice of topping trees.

“There is an epidemic of residents who are somewhere getting some bad advice, and they’re topping the trees in their yard,” Shane Moore, city of St. George parks manager and urban forester, told St. George News. “We just want to make people aware that this old-timey style of pruning is really hurting their trees.”

The city of St. George is advising residents against the practice of topping trees, photo date and location not specified | Photo by Chris Brandt and courtesy of the city of St. George, St. George News

When a tree is topped, 50 to 100 percent of leafed branches are removed, Moore said in a public service announcement, taking away the tree’s food source and causing it to go into stress mode.

Trees store carbohydrates or “food” in their branches, trunks and roots. Topping a tree can remove valuable energy stores and a tree’s ability to perform photosynthesis.

When all of a tree’s leaves are removed, a tree will sprout water suckers from dormant buds along the remaining branches.

Water suckers are fast growing branches that have a weak attachment to the tree’s trunk. These branches are where future branch failures can and will occur, Moore said.

Additionally, topping opens a tree up to decay. Trees can “heal” a wound from a proper pruning cut but not from a stub cut. Moore called a branch that has been cut in the middle a “superhighway for disease to enter the tree.”

The city of St. George is advising residents against the practice of topping trees, photo date and location not specified | Photo by Chris Brandt and courtesy of the city of St. George, St. George News

Most trees don’t require a lot of pruning, Moore said. Only branches that are crossing and rubbing or dead and dying need to be removed.

Moore suggested that residents who feel that their tree needs to be pruned should consult with an International Society of Arborists certified arborist and to always demand that the tree is pruned to ISA standards.

Moore reminded residents that all trees in the city of St George right of way are protected under the Shade Tree ordinance.

If you aren’t sure if this applies to you or have a tree concern, call 435-627-4530 to speak with city staff.

“St. George is a unique city in the desert southwest,” Moore said. “We are a community with a wonderful urban forest. Our downtown streets are lined with shade trees. … Trees are a valuable piece of our community. Help protect our urban forest. Please don’t top your trees.”

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Email: pdail@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • comments April 4, 2017 at 11:52 am

    LOL Yea, looking at those pics–yea I think they over-pruned those trees. It’s like “hey Pablo, I think u took off enough already”. Maybe cutting ever single branch off the tree is just a way for them to charge more, who knows.

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