Topping a tulip poplar

Old 04-19-06, 01:43 PM
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Question Topping a tulip poplar

We have a large tulip poplar in our backyard (approx 44 inches in diameter a few feet up from the base). We have been told that the top quarter of the tree (where the tree splits into major limbs) has some visible rot, and that that top portion of the tree is hollow. We spoke with an arborist who told us the tree needed to come down immediately (for a huge price). We then spoke to another person with extensive experience (but not a certified arborist) who told us that the tree could be topped instead of taking it down, and that because it is a poplar it would regenerate at the top. I would love to avoid taking down such a beautiful big tree, and I don't think the second person had any incentive to tell us not to take the tree down (he would get more $$$ to cut it down). At the same time, I've been told that the idea of topping the tree makes no sense. Any thoughts?
Old 04-19-06, 03:41 PM
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Topping a tree is not recommended by the National Arborist Society. If the top portion of the tree is rotten and hollow, it is time for it to be removed before the top portion topples. The tree has lost its integrity. When the tree finally loses it top or it is topped, it will lose its dignity.

The diseased top portion is already reducing the tree's ability to produce food. As the tree continues to decay, the tree will continue to decline. Topping will further reduce the tree's ability to produce food and will result in undesirable lateral growth and shoots. New growth where tree would be topped will be weak and likely succumb to wind and storm damage and disease.

Proper pruning during development of trees can often correct weak v-crotches where bark often splits and tree becomes open to insects and disease. Proper pruning during development makes for healthy trees which can achieve desired results in the landscape.

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