Do you have a tree in your back or front yard that is getting a little too big for the space it occupies? Does your yard seem smaller or more cramped as a result? Then, you might be considering topping your tree, a process that involves removing the entire upper portion of a tree, leaving stubs where there were once a trunk and branches.
This would be unwise, however. There's a reason why trees grow leaves in the spring and shed them in autumn.
Trees Need Leaves to Survive
Leaves allow trees to create food through photosynthesis. Leaves also let trees soak up moisture from the air. In winter, trees shed their leaves and go dormant, relying on the food reserves stored in their roots. In spring, trees then use these stored reserves to initiate new growth, growth that benefits insects, animals, and people, as well as the tree itself.
If you remove the entirety of a tree's canopy, you remove its ability to take in and store food in its roots for the coming winter and for the following spring. As a result, the tree will quickly try to replace those lost branches. But the new branches will be weaker and more vulnerable to high winds, a fact that could endanger you and your home during future storms.
Fortunately, there are safer alternatives than tree topping.
Trimming or Lopping Is Safer
If your tree's canopy is blocking a view or casting shade over your entire yard, you could hire a tree specialist or arborist to reduce it. By removing as much as 25% of your tree's canopy — any more than that is harmful — a tree specialist might be able to open up a view or allow more sunlight to enter a yard.
However, if your tree is quite large, you shouldn't attempt to carry out this job yourself. Not only would that be dangerous, but you might also end up removing branches that didn't need to be removed or removing too many branches.
A professional would know how and where to trim your tree in order to get the desired result.
Windowing is Less Intrusive
If trimming much of your tree's canopy away is something that doesn't sit well with you, then you could opt for windowing instead. Much like standard trimming, windowing thins an area of your tree's canopy to allow you to see through it or to let in more sunlight. So, in essence, your tree professional creates a window within your tree's canopy.
Both of these alternatives are much healthier and safer than tree topping. If your tree is rather large and you'd like to reduce its size somewhat, consider hiring a professional to carry out one of the above alternatives.
For more information on tree lopping, consult a resource in your area.