“I want you to Top My Tree”

climbingmonkey24

Well-Known Member
Location
Ludlow
Was wondering what you all say to potential customers who call wanting you to top their tree because they think it’s too tall or don’t like the shape?

I dealt with this yesterday. I usually say that we don’t do it nor do we recommend topping because it isn’t an appropriate pruning practice and can cause more harm than good down the road. Plus the new growth that comes back where you’ve topped isn’t as structurally sound which could make the tree a potential risk (correct me if I’m wrong).

Sometimes people will understand and appreciate the advice and other times they think you’re full of it and don’t want to hear it.
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
I explain basically the same thing, and offer to properly prune or to remove and replace said tree. Sometimes they’ll gain some sense and go for it, other times they will just call one of the local hacks to come in and do things the way they want. Either way though, we will not top a tree, except in VERY rare circumstances.
 

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
Administrator
In addition I would acknowledge that some tree cutters will do the work. I won’t because it would compromise my personal and professional ethics as a Certified Arborist.
For years I’ve challenged any pro/tipping tree cutters about their justification. If anyone can find a legitimate source that accepts topping as a proper practice, print the justification, and I’ll eat it. I’m still waiting, with my Cholula at hand
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
In addition I would acknowledge that some tree cutters will do the work. I won’t because it would compromise my personal and professional ethics as a Certified Arborist.
For years I’ve challenged any pro/tipping tree cutters about their justification. If anyone can find a legitimate source that accepts topping as a proper practice, print the justification, and I’ll eat it. I’m still waiting, with my Cholula at hand
I neglected to mention that, I always note that someone will do it, but they should not hire them precisely for that reason.

Hey, another Cholula fan!
 

NeSurfcaster

Member
Location
South Jersey
Or sometimes it turns into a 5,000 dollar job once you complete the first job(Topping). I was in the same situation not long ago trying to talk a homeowner/wife into not topping her pines around her pool. Turned out they just wanted them topped so the husband could feel safe dropping the rest of the tree. I agree topping is no good on almost any tree. But sometimes they just want you to get the tree to a reasonable height so they can drop the rest of it.
That's how my current job went down, now they hired me to remove many more trees$$$
I've seen some maples around here topped that are total nightmare tree's now. 20 weak shoots coming out of the trunk at the final topping cut. Around here most topping jobs are people looking for a cheaper price rather then a full removal.
As a aspiring climber I take on any climbing/tree work I can get so I guess I fall into a the "hack category 6 months a year" The other 6 months I work for a professional tree cutting company (6 years and counting).
 

Treezybreez

Well-Known Member
Location
Lancaster, SC
I usually explain why topping is generally bad and if they insist, I simply tell them that I do not want my name associated with a topped tree. Most folks who ask for topping, can be persuaded otherwise. Just don't sound condescending.
 

Chaplain242

Well-Known Member
Seen so many topped trees either create hazards or die. I am amazed so many municipalities still do it. So many trees around here have been topped to death - asilent witness to the practice.

I won’t do it - but was told when initially trained that if asked to top trees, to get a signed acknowledgement of the risks assumed by the client, and the need to regularly prune and inspect the tree.

the only other instance of topping is when turning tree into a shrub to significantly reduce height (below first branch) and provide a sight screen. Tree then grows to looks like a lollipop, but it does serve its purpose - albeit must be done again after a few years before limbs begin tearing out.... but more akin to pollarding than topping...
 

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
Administrator
I won’t do it - but was told when initially trained that if asked to top trees, to get a signed acknowledgement of the risks assumed by the client, and the need to regularly prune and inspect the tree.
That won't hold up in court. Any half awake attorney will get a copy of A300 and Have you justify why you worked outside of industry standards. YOu will lose.
 

Chaplain242

Well-Known Member
That won't hold up in court. Any half awake attorney will get a copy of A300 and Have you justify why you worked outside of industry standards. YOu will lose.
Agreed, that’s why on select species I will refrain from big cuts, let alone topping. Statement of trainer more to do with the prevalence of the demand for topping, and I have seen many clients will likely step back if they are requested to accept liability on paper.

The lollipop deal is one that does happen round here a bit, but like said pollarding is a different case, as is done quite close to the ground...
 

dunderpaps

Member
Location
haledon
one of my repeat customers asked me to look at a maple tree at his sons house that he wanted topped 4ft all around because he was getting a pool installed under the tree, I met with the son and explained some off the reasons why it wasn't a good idea.i then asked him what he was trying to achieve by pruning the tree and he said his only concern was removing any branches over the pool I agreed to take some off the limbs over the pool and remove some of the dead and a cracked limb also over the pool I gave him a price and got the go ahead.We completed the job and later that day I received a call from the father saying he wanted more off the tree, I said I had done what his son had requested and I didn't think it would be a good idea to take anymore off. I later get a message from the son saying he thought I was going to top the tree Im sure the the father tore him a new one for going against his wishes and is lying about our verbal contract. Even though the father was a long time customer I should have got a written contract and now I,m looking at a possible lawsuit,
 

Benjo75

Well-Known Member
Location
Malvern
I'd trim 4 ft off the rest of the tree before it comes to a lawsuit especially since it's verbal. I always write everything down to the letter and everyone involved gets a copy. If I ever slip up and don't write everything down (like a close friend or family member) it always bites me in the butt. It can be a $1,500 job and they'll say You said $1,200." In almost 30 years no one has ever said more than the total quoted. It always seems to work in their favor.
 

dunderpaps

Member
Location
haledon
I'd trim 4 ft off the rest of the tree before it comes to a lawsuit especially since it's verbal. I always write everything down to the letter and everyone involved gets a copy. If I ever slip up and don't write everything down (like a close friend or family member) it always bites me in the butt. It can be a $1,500 job and they'll say You said $1,200." In almost 30 years no one has ever said more than the total quoted. It always seems to work in their favor.
I,m leaning that way I'm going to put it down to a failure to communicate
 

Chaplain242

Well-Known Member
I'd trim 4 ft off the rest of the tree before it comes to a lawsuit especially since it's verbal. I always write everything down to the letter and everyone involved gets a copy. If I ever slip up and don't write everything down (like a close friend or family member) it always bites me in the butt. It can be a $1,500 job and they'll say You said $1,200." In almost 30 years no one has ever said more than the total quoted. It always seems to work in their favor.
Can certainly sympathise. But would stand ground regarding topping, saying you don’t do topping jobs and would have passed on the job if that was the requirement (assuming you haven’t done so in the past). Would immediately text back calling BS. Arrange a meeting with a witness (again assuming they aren’t armed hotheads, or a family of vindictive lawyers)

issue is if you get bullied into topping, anyone in their social network may try pulling that approach in future...
 

OasisTree

Well-Known Member
Location
Central Missouri
The few trees I have topped in the past took about the same amount of time as if I would have removed it, so anyone that asks now i tell them I can take it down for the same money, and they are better off to look elsewhere. What I run into is where the tree has come out nice from a previous topping 10 years ago, and they want it reduced to where it was cut before to make it "safe." Its hard to convince those folks that its not good for the tree when the tree has done just fine from the previous topping.

There are instances where you can cut back an old large elm or maple and it stimulates the tree to grow again, and actually pulls it out of decline. To be clear, I am not condoning the practice, just pointing out some observations.

I tell folks that insist that yes I will top your tree, but it will be topped 2" off the ground!;)
 

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