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My neighbor told me it was a good time of year to have my large tree topped, but I wanted to ask you first.

Answer

This is a great time of year to have your trees inspected, pruned and dangerous ones removed because the leaves are off now and the overall structure of the tree is visible. It is also important that this work be done as soon as possible before winter storm damage occurs from wind and heavy snow loads.

"Topping" trees, however, is a very bad idea at any time of the year. In fact, in Connecticut, tree pruning can only be performed by arborists licensed by CT DEEP and if an arborist "tops" a tree, he or she can lose their license. Topping is a process where a major portion of the canopy of a tree is cut off with a straight cut to shorten the height of a tree. Not only does this look bad, it greatly improves the chances a tree will become diseased or pest infested because of the multiple open wounds. Even more importantly, though, is that the tree's ability to make food by photosynthesis is greatly impaired, certainly shortening the life of the tree and many times killing it. When a tree is topped, it will start growing what are called "water sprouts" (not true branches) that appear to fill in the tree, but are not well attached structurally. They generally grow out at odd angles and will break easily in the wind. Tree height reduction, if needed, can be made by proper pruning techniques to remove selective limbs where they originate at a larger stem. Sometimes, this process should be done over several years. The best advice, though, is to plant the proper tree in the first place. Do your research or call us and we can help select the correct tree for your property. Sprigs & Twigs, with trained and licensed arborists on staff, provides expert tree care services whether it is tree selection, planting, proper pruning or free consultation. Untold and irreparable damage is done every day by bargain tree companies that are not licensed and offer little, other than a cheap price.

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About Linda Lillie

Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.

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