The Horrors Of Amputation

By  | March 1, 2012 | Filed under: News

A few weeks back I discussed crepe myrtle murder.   If you are thinking about planting a crepe myrtle, consider the area that you have available and the maximum height that you want your tree to grow.  There are several varieties of crepe myrtles listed in various heights that do well in Alabama.  The following link from the Alabama Cooperative Extension service has a list of the varieties along with size and color characteristics:

http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-1083/ANR-1083.pdf

Another big no no of landscaping is a common practice of amputation in reverse called topping.  Topping is the amputation of limbs to nubs. Other names for topping include “heading,” “tipping,” “hat-racking,” and “rounding over.”    Topping accomplishes two things, either you kill the tree or you have a tree that magnifies the reason you amputated it, to reduce the height and width.  Pictured is a tree that was topped two years ago along with two of its siblings on the west side of the house.   All three are now dead. Another side effect from the lack of afternoon shade on the house is increased cooling costs.

If the tree does survive, it is extremely weakened as usually over 50 per cent of the leaf production is removed which temporarily starves the tree.  The amputation triggers a survival instinct in the tree and causes it to produce several weak water sprouts like branches coming out of the edge of the cut at odd angles.  These sprouts may grow up to twenty feet in a year. Since these are holding on by the edge of a nail, they are susceptible to breakage from wind damage and become bomb like when they fall.

 

The open cuts expose the tree to insect and disease damage and allow water to get into the openings causing the heart of the tree to rotten.  A stressed tree is a magnet for attacking insects. Next you hear the owner complaining the wood peckers are killing the tree.

Removing all the leaf cover can cause the lower branches to get a sun burn which will cause bark splitting and cankers.

If you cannot properly prune a tree, just cut it down and prevent a slow agonizing death.

 

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