Tulip Tree – Topping

Q: I have a tall tulip poplar in my back yard which constantly drops limbs. I don’t want to cut it down so I=m thinking about topping it. Would this help the limb breakage problem?

A: Topping your tree is a bad idea. Once you cut out the top of your tree, it will quickly sprout new branches near the cut and they will head for the sky. Since they are only weakly attached to the bark of the tree top, any future wind-, ice- or snow-storm has the potential to bring the limb crashing down. That=s just what you are trying to avoid by topping the tree! In fact, you are caught between a rock and a hard place. You don=t want to lose the tree=s shade but you=re frustrated with a messy tree. All in all, your best course of action might be to keep the tree un-topped and remember not to park or picnic underneath.

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