Tree lopping is one of the most common terms relating to tree maintenance. This involves the trimming of branches to modify and reduce the size of the tree.

So, does this translate to pruning?

All of that and more will be discussed as you read along.

Correcting the Misconception

Tree lopping is often confused with tree pruning due to the fact that both have to do with trimming off certain parts of trees. However, there are clear differences between the two.

Lopping has a lot to do with aesthetics. In other words, a tree needs to be carved or cut to maintain a certain shape.

Pruning on the other hand is done to stimulate new growth, encourage fruit production, and prevent tree-related diseases. Additional benefits include the removal of dangerous branches, and carrying out basic repairs following weather damage.

Common Reasons For Tree Lopping

In most cases, tree lopping may be considered mainly due to the aesthetic appeal provided. Practical purposes for lopping also include the removal of dead or damaged parts of a tree for better growth.

Aesthetic appeal is paramount when it comes to tree lopping.

This process seeks to train a tree to grow in a certain desirable way. It doesn’t matter if this is good for the tree or not. The reality is, tree lopping isn’t done for the benefit of the tree.

This may result in stressed trees which become badly affected. More on this would be discussed shortly.

  • Other Reasons

Apart from the aesthetic appeal derived from lopping, there are other practical reasons why people call for this activity. These include the protection of their homes or property as well as safeguarding people from risks exposed by falling tree limbs.

For tall trees, extreme wind conditions or storms may make them increasingly unstable. When this is sensed, tree lopping may be necessary. Lopping is also a preferred action taken when dealing with diseased trees.

In this case, certain parts of the tree have to give way to prevent the spread of infection.

Is Lopping Beneficial To Trees?

This is a critical question to ask as more focus is placed on the appearance of the tree.

While lopping may seem beneficial on the surface, it does more harm than good to a tree. In other words, the “maintenance” activity may end up affecting your tree’s health.

There are several reasons why tree lopping is a bad idea. These include being a temporary solution, devaluing your property, stressing your trees, posing danger and risks and also adding to a tree’s vulnerability.

Let’s expand on each of these reasons.

  • Being a Temporary Solution

With every tree lopping job comes wild and unstable growth.

Shoots or branches sprout around the cut area to replace the cut section. This means you’ll have to always perform tree lopping which comes at an added cost to you.

Once this is done, tree lopping would have to be continued. Plus, this doesn’t give any much aesthetic value as some people might think.

Apart from performing a tree lopping job for safety purposes, any other reason isn’t really justifiable.

  • Devaluing your Property

The last thing most people want to deal with is devaluing their property.

If anything, everyone would want to shore-up their property’s value. Unfortunately, tree lopping only devalues your property. It devalues it in the sense that it makes your surroundings unappealing.

This can be confusing considering the fact that you wanted enhancing the aesthetic appeal of your trees.

That’s not necessarily true. You might end up causing the opposite effect when your trees take a different look or impact negatively on your surroundings.

  • Stressing your Trees

Lopping is one action that cuts tree sections irrespective of whether they’re healthy or not.

This action would be justifiable if the sections being cut are diseased. However, cutting off healthy parts such as major limbs with no consideration for the tree’s future growth can result in significant stress.

Here, there’s a imbalance in your tree’s crown-to-root ratio.

What happens is a situation where your tree’s ability to create energy and food is largely affected. More branches and leaves mean an enhanced ability to photosynthesize. This is significantly reduced when lopping occurs.

Tree stress leads to a number of adverse conditions including unstable regrowth. The most severe of such conditions results in eventual death.

  • Posing Danger & Risks

Tree lopping may seem desirable in the short term, but its long term effects are quite negative. The continued action of cutting off healthy and diseased sections of major tree limbs exposes them to diseases.

Apart from the risk of spreading infections from cut areas, tree lopping is also a risky activity in itself. You’ll need to be high up a tree to perform this task. Even experienced tree loppers are at risks of accidents as there are several factors that could increase the work risks.

After lopping a tree, you have a situation where new shoots and branches spring forth from lopped sections. Now, these new shoots or branches are likely to be more unstable. These are likely to drop in future.

A variety of conditions may lead to this including storms.

  • Adding to a Tree’s Vulnerability

Like humans, every tree has a natural defense system against diseases.

However, lopped sections of a tree have a much lower defense against infections and other diseases. This increases the vulnerability of such trees to a variety of diseases.

Insects and pests are also quick to infest such cut areas.

These will readily damage the trees by affecting its natural healing process. When performed in winter, trees are unable to heal as this is a dormant period where most trees shut down their productive processes.

Is Tree Lopping a Viable Option?

It isn’t at all!

Due to the many issues relating to tree lopping, it has dropped in popularity. Most people prefer trimming or pruning to lopping as they offer much better benefits to trees.

We’ve discussed tree lopping and its many disadvantages. If you’ve previously sought to carry out this procedure, the information here should be reason enough to drop the idea.

Most reputable tree removal services would advice against it.