Tree Topping

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Published on: Sep. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 12, 2010

overall campaign strategies. Forest ReLeaf maintains the toll-free (877) 4-NOTOP telephone hotline. Homeowners can call this number for tree pruning information. The campaign has been so successful that 26 states have inquired about it.

"The campaign has exceeded all expectations, given its impact both in Missouri and throughout much of the United States," said Nancy von Brecht, Forest ReLeaf executive director .

Topping vs. Tree Pruning

A topped tree is easy to spot. Its natural shape has been destroyed, while a properly pruned tree looks well-shaped, symmetrical and healthy. In fact, a tree that is pruned correctly will show no evidence of alteration. With proper pruning, an arborist will spend time carefully selecting and removing branches.

Proper pruning is an important part of caring for and protecting the health of your trees. In fact, many tree care professionals recommend that homeowners start early and continue proper pruning throughout the life a tree.

The Right Approach

A tree is a valuable asset. As long-term investments, trees require careful decisions and the occasional advice of a professional. If you are unable to do the work yourself, you may want to consider hiring a professional. Make sure you find a competent, insured and certified tree care professional.

"In Missouri, there are trained tree care professionals, and there are tree cutters," said Robert L. Krepps, Forestry Division Administrator with the Missouri Department of Conservation. "Tree cutters tend to be untrained, uninsured, inexperienced and minimally equipped. Many don't stay in business long,"

"Missouri does not have a regulatory group responsible for tree care standards or the quality of work performed by tree care providers," he added. "Basically, that means it is not against the law for a firm to advertise that it is a tree specialist, or that an individual is an arborist, even if they have no training in tree care."

There are many tree service companies in Missouri. Some have highly trained and competent employees, but others have employees who lack basic tree identification and tree care knowledge. Do your homework and select a company with skilled, trained employees.

Ask if the company you are considering is a member of an arborist association. The St. Louis Arborist Association expects its members to abide by the accepted national pruning standards, which do not advocate tree topping.

"We feel that the national standard is a good baseline to educate customers as well as professionals in

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