Bradford Pear – Can I Top It Each Year?

Top Kill It

Q: My house came with a Bradford pear in front by the sidewalk. The leaves make a big mess so I topped it severely because I was told that it will grow back new limbs. Will I kill it if I top it each year? 

A: You probably won’t kill it if you remove around 50% of the high branches each year. It will be weakened but I’ve never seen a Bradford pear killed outright by pruning. What will happen is that one of the lower branches will increase in diameter each year. Finally, it will tear away from the trunk. Hopefully, it won’t hit your car. When this limb splits off, the weight on the trunk from other limbs will be unbalanced and they will fall too. You will have a big mess to clean up and a trunk about five feet tall. When spring next arrives, the trunk will sprout new growth. The tree will not be dead but you will wish with all your might that you had replaced the tree soon after you moved in.

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