Bradford Pear – Is Topping OK?

Q: I have two mature Bradford pear trees on my property and they have always been very large. Each tree has several limbs growing from the base and the tree height is above the street light in our neighborhood. I’m concerned the thick limbs may break and fall into the street.

I had a tree company come out and give me two estimates, one to “top” the Bradford Pears and one to remove. Should they be topped?

A: Certified Arborist Chris Hastings says: Shortening Bradford pearlimbs is a practice that has been on the rise recently more from desparation than proper horticulture. There is a commercial property on Buford Hwy, south of N Druid Hills on the left side (when driving south) that has cut the trees to 6 foot tall trunks that now have a bobbed head growing from the 16 inch diameter trunks.

Yes, a consistent crapemyrtle style “pollarding” is effective at reducing the cantilever effect of each lanky branch, but the tree does not bloom well for a year or two. I balk at recommending it but I would have to say that it works on one level or another.

One warning I would offer is that Bradfords are susceptible to fire blight. I have seen 1-2 cases where it seemed that the harsh pruning made them more susceptible, even though the reduced flower count means fewer flower for the bees, which spread the disease.

these Bradford pear limbs were shortened xx years ago

these Bradford pear limbs were shortened 10 years ago

ten years ago

ten years ago