Incorrect Pruning practices

There are many ways to prune a tree

and unfortunately many incorrect ways are acceptable among the general public because they don’t know they can harm the tree.

Topping and Lion Tailing

Topping and Lion tailing are common techniques that are NOT ACCEPTABLE PRUNING PRACTICES.

Lion Tailing is often confused by uneducated arborists as crown cleaning. However, excessive crown cleaning of trees is not an acceptable pruning practice. Incorrect pruning creates a host of problems including weak branch structure and increased water sprout production. (Water sprouts are multiple branches that grow up from the stubbed or cut branch.)

The branch structure is compromised because the tree increases its growth at the ends of the branches thus increasing the weight at the ends of the branch. The tree tries to replace the interior branches by forcing water sprouts on the interior. Water sprout branches grow very fast — often 3 to 4 times as fast as a branch normally grows. Water sprout branches are also weakly attached; they are only attached on the outside of the tree and are easily broken out of the tree.

Lion tailing in any of its forms is not an acceptable pruning practice. Lion tailing is the removal of most if not all of the interior branches and leaving the ends full.

Proper pruning is not to be confused with topping.

The disfiguring practice of “topping” is the indiscriminate removal of a tree’s main leader and branches resulting in stubs. The cut surfaces of the stubs do not close or heal readily, and accelerated internal decay develops. The result is water sprouts growing from the stubbed branches and for branches that are very weak. Topping leave a tree highly susceptible to damage from strong winds, winter injury, insects and disease.