Here in southern California, and especially in our city of Redlands, which is bestowed with 100+ year old trees, we have an epidemic of terrible tree trimming. Also, tree topping or pollarding — where main branches are trimmed to stubs — seems to be rampant.
Case in point: A neighbor of ours had his 3 foot diameter lemon bark eucalyptus tree topped a year ago, leaving one sorry dangling branch of leaves (see photo below). When I had asked the tree trimmer during the process (the neighbor was not around) why he was doing something so detrimental to the tree – he replied that if he didn’t take the job, someone else would.
Last month another tree trimmer was taking down the tree, which had struggled to survive. The neighbor might have saved some money a year ago, but he certainly didn’t in the long-term. And topped or over-trimmed trees never recover.
Here is a photo about 6 months after the trimming – it didn’t get any better. In contrast, our neighbor next to us had his similar sized tree trimmed correctly.
Don’t take off more than 20% of a tree’s live growth in mature trees, and no more than 10% in slower growing ones such as native oaks.” -common tree guideline in city policy manuals
I chatted with tree trimmer, Bill Walters with Strong Scape Services, as his crew was taking down the tree, and he shared story after story of poor tree trimming and/or topping or pollarding. His advice:
- ask tree trimmers for photographs of their work.
- get more than one bid, and be prepared to pay a little more for a better job.
- Remember a general guideline (which is in many city manuals): Don’t take off more than 20% of a tree’s live growth in mature trees, and no more than 10% in slower growing ones such as native oaks.