Why Shouldn’t You Lop Trees?

Tree lopping is an outdated tree care method that does more damage than good. So much so, that The ACT Tree Protection Act 2005 has prohibited it. Despite extensive research based on the disadvantages of lopping trees, it remains a commonly used practice.

What is Tree Lopping?

Tree lopping is an arboricultural activity that is usually detrimental to the trees. The term refers to the cutting of branches or stems that sit between the branch unions. This differs from pruning, which describes the cutting of branches back to a fork or branch union.

You may have heard “tree lopping” being referred to as “topping”, “heading”, “hat-racking” or “rounding over”.

Why is Tree Lopping so Bad for Trees?

Lopping Makes the Trees Vulnerable

Lopping a tree usually removes at least half of the leaf-bearing crown. The leaves provide food for the tree, so it can be temporarily be starved if lopped. This form of pruning is too harsh, so this triggers a survival mechanism in the tree in an  attempt to protect itself. It activates latent buds which forces the rapid growth of multiple shoots below each cut. To cope with this, the tree puts out a new crop of leaves at a fast rate and if it doesn’t have the energy it needs, this puts too much stress on the tree.

It also makes the tree more vulnerable to diseases and insects, as open wounds expose the sapwood and heartwoods to attacks from insects and fungus.

Lopping Affects the Aesthetics of the Tree

Lopping makes trees unhealthy and this is evident in its exterior. It causes decay, because the wounds caused are too large for the tree to heal naturally. In less severe circumstances, the tree is able to compartmentalise the decaying tissues, but when there are multiple lopping wounds, few trees can defend against decay.

Lopping can also lead to sunburn. It may seem unusual to think that trees can burn in the sun, but they are a living organism that relies on its thousands of leaves to absorb sunlight. When these leaves are taken away, the branches and trunk are suddenly exposed to high levels of sunlight and heat. This can cause sunburn of the tissues beneath the bark. Sunburn often leads to the bark splitting and the death of some branches.

On a purely visual level, lopping leaves ugly stumps and disfigures the natural shape of a tree.

Lopping is Expensive

Once a tree has been lopped, it requires ongoing maintenance and usually the tree can never re-gain its original form. Providing the tree survives, it will need further pruning a few years down the line. If it dies, you’ll have to pay to have the tree removed.

Hire an Arborist for Tree Pruning

Protect your trees and the value of your property, by consulting a trained arborist for your tree pruning needs. Avoid DIY and dangerous methods like lopping that can often be more expensive in the long-run.

Tree pruning from Daryl’s Tree Care is carried out by skilled arborists with years of experience in the field. We safely service your trees to ensure they are healthy, long-lasting and maintain their natural beauty. Find out more by calling us for a free quote or advice on (03) 9897 4418.