ST. GEORGE — As weather starts to warm up and people venture out to take stock of their landscaping, many homeowners cast an eye higher in the sky toward the trees on their property, and city of St. George officials are reminding people that the practice of ‘tree topping’ actually does more damage than good.
“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 deputy director of parks, previously told St. George News. “We just want to make people aware that this old-timey style of pruning is really hurting their trees.”
According to a press release from the city, when a tree is topped, 50-100% of leafed branches are removed, taking away the tree’s food source and causing it to go into stress mode. The tree then sends out epicormic shoots – “what we call water suckers,” Moore said. These new branches do not have strong attachments and can eventually fall from the tree.
Trees can “heal” a wound from a proper pruning cut but not from a stub cut like those seen in tree topping. Moore called a branch that has been cut in the middle a “superhighway for disease to enter the tree.”
Most trees don’t require a lot of pruning, Moore said, adding that 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.
“Every winter we see an increase of unlicensed companies coming to St. George to solicit tree work,” the press release states. “These companies canvas neighborhoods and offer discounted tree care. Some are not only unlicensed to work in St. George, but also are unqualified without any arborist certifications.”
In addition to advising against tree topping, 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.
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