The chief of the state forestry bureau is warning Iowans to resist the springtime urge to go after your trees with a heavy hand. John Walkowiak says one of the most common mistakes you can make is what’s called “topping” a tree — a radical cutting back of its branches. Walkowiak says tree topping is often done when branches hang over a house and pose a danger. Or he says people mistakenly believe that cutting back the tree will spur it to grow back even stronger.

Walkowiak says topping will do more harm that good to your tree. Walkowiak says the tree has “advantageous buds” under its bark that will sprout back as it attempts to survive and the tree comes under “tremendous stress.” Walkowiak says the topping violates pruning rules as it leaves the tree unable to close off the wounds and the tree is then exposed to water and soil that can lead to internal decay.

Walkowiak says you can help trees by having a professional prune them back. He says you should contact a certified arborists who can provide information on how to use good standard techniques to prune the tree and keep it living. Walkowiak says good arborists are easy to find.

He says you can find someone in the phone book, but avoid anyone with an ad that mentions topping. Walkowiak says you can also surf to to find a list of arborists. Walkowiak says you should do some checking and get several bids on the work before going ahead and having your tree pruned.

Related web sites:
DNR forestry information