GREENSCAPE GARDENS TREE TIPS
Criminal Tree Topping
Tree topping is a crime against nature. Our trees are tremendously valuable, but are frequently ignored and often abused community asset. We all need to take proper care of our trees. Doing so makes common sense. Unfortunately, many of the so called professionals to whom the public looks for guidance are not in the tree service business but rather the tree abuse business. The "bad boys" of arborculture are not really bad. They are simply unaware or underestimate the deleterious effects of improper pruning and other improper tree care practices. And yet, bad pruning has serious adverse effects, not only on trees but for homeowners as well.
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Here are the three basic categories of bad arborists: * "Ralph's Tree Service" is usually a one or two person outfit with an old pickup truck that solicits work door to door. These operations prey on people's fear of large trees and recommend topping or removing trees for safety reasons. These outfits usually work outside the law, assuring customers they are insured, even if they are not. If one of their uninsured workers get hurt on a job, they can, and do, sue the property owner. Always ask your tree service for proof of insurance. In addition "Ralph" underbids everybody and leaves behind a mess.
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"Butcher Tree Experts" have been in business for 20 years or more and are even listed in the Yellow Pages. These companies have clean shaven crews and fleets of pickup and bucket trucks. Although these companies are perfectly legal, few of their crew members know how to prune properly. They talk a good story but usually do whatever the customer requests and recommend whatever is fastest. They know that topping is bad, but they do it anyway. Or they use "drop-crotching," a nicer method of tree topping that is also bad for trees and usually unnecessary. These companies often top or drop crotch to appease tree owners who understandably, have no idea what real pruning entails.
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"Art the Treeshaper" knows enough good pruning techniques and Latin to be truly dangerous. He fancies himself as an artist or sculptor and has perfected long, drawn out ways to tortue trees. Art is an expert at separating wealthy customers from their money. Art may not even top trees, but he will often prune them into odd shapes. His work may force the owner into an expensive battle with suckers or waterspouts that diminish their trees' healthy and beauty over time.
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PROFESSIONALS do not do unprofessional work. Good arborists do not top trees, and they do not use spurs to climb trees. They do not cut into branch collars or rely on wound paints or seals to stop rot. Overall, good arborists do what they can to please their customers without harming trees.
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Summary: St. Louis has an abundance of quality, professional arborists. Take the time to consult with prospective arborists to determine the quality of work they perform. The value of a trees is priceless.....take the time and it will pay a handsome dividend.
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Note: I wrote this article for the May 1993 issue of St. Louis Outdoor Lifestyles and I am still appalled with the abusive tree topping which still occurs in St. Louis.