Tree topping is prohibited.
You could be liable for a fine!
Tree topping consists in cutting the crown of a tree (or upper main branch) to reduce the tree’s height. However, this practice often leads to a tree becoming unhealthy and unsafe. This is why tree topping is a municipal by-law violation which may result in a fine.
The consequences of tree topping:
— Tree topping often leaves a large wound which will never heal. Open wounds also expose the inside of the tree to bacteria, funghi and insect infestations. Decay sets in and spreads to the trunk and roots: consequently the tree’s life expectancy is reduced by half or more. This cavity has a disastrous effect on the strength of the tree.
— Such drastic pruning also immediately reduces the tree’s reserves (essentially starch and soluble sugars). A topped tree becomes very weak and more vulnerable to external aggressions such as pollution, cold, draught, salinity, subsequent pruning, etc. In addition, its resistance to disease is lessened.
— A tree’s response to topping is often to quickly grow suckers. This is why some people claim that topping “reinvigorates” a tree: THIS IS TOTALLY FALSE. These new shoots which are meant to replace the cut-off crown are not as solidly anchored as the original crown. They grow from the cambium located under the bark. They are therefore very weakly attached compared to the old crown which was entirely supported by the trunk and are highly susceptible to breakage from strong winds or weight from excessive growth.
— Given the depletion of the reserves, the roots regress which translates into less anchorage into the soil (risks of windthrow).
— Topping also changes the specific and natural outline of the tree. In winter, the rows of trees transformed into posts have a most unaesthetic appearance.
—A topped tree is an impending expense. The costs of keeping an eye on unsafe trees, of carrying out restoration pruning and of replacing a dead tree are very high.
However, if you believe topping is required, for example to clear power lines or to remove a dead, diseased or unsafe crown, please ask the Town for an authorization certificate.