Lion Tailing and other crimes

Bart_

Participating member
Location
GTA
Few months back I encountered a 2 man crew skinning the bejeezus out of a locust. I would call it 2nd stage lion tailing in one go, skipping the first increment. This would surely prevent stuff from getting on the roof and in the eaves trough - har - I knew the lady and she beefed about that. Eaves trough going to be full the same but now the tree is effed up.

Fast forward to today. I see a guy grounding out tree bits next to where I am and amicably chat. Then I look up and see a locust that has had a 10 to 12" leader lopped off and sundry other lion tail skinning. Look toward the back yard and see another tree getting the lion tail treatment. As I get a closer look from the adjacent back yard I see the climber hanging DRT skinning his way up the trunk. No 2nd attachment. Then I realized it was the same guys.

The secondary crime was that the lowest, and thus desirable to cut, locust leader was counterweighting the tree away from the house. I always leave or encourage tree weighting neutral or biased to fail away from targets e.g. the house. I think the tree ended up biased toward the house.

Does this constitute mindless, poor pruning or am I just getting too picky? I was reminded what a natural locust looks like because one of my customers has an about 10 year old tree that hasn't been touched. They are actually reasonably spready trees.

What pushed my button today was after that, at another property a long time acquaintance, at the behest of his new girlfriend, has ascribed to lion tailing. I have put three separate prunes on one of his maples, and when he saw me deadwooding the oak next door it triggered his new lion tailing neurosis and he suddenly needed a fourth prune, way up high in what's left of the crown. I refused it by putting him off and now heard he'll find someone to perform the skinning. ok, fine, his tree. But, his sights are also on the 80 year old lady next door's majestic, postcard, spreading oak tree. I already shaved some spread off the oak last year, for which I did personal penance and said hail Mary's. So I made the lady promise she would hold her ground and keep the other arborist out of her tree. She's a 20 year customer of mine. I just hope she doesn't buckle under the pressure. And, a pattern I've seen is people go nuts on their property changing everything, then a year or two later, after they've effed up a bunch of stuff for themselves and their neighbours, they sell and move away leaving behind the screw ups. So, after his lion tailing binge he may just up and move, after effing her tree.


There, it's off my chest.
 

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
Administrator
The term 'lion's tailing' comes off, to me, as cute and cuddly. Way too soft.

I came up with calling the practice 'gutting' and use the term when talking with clients. Make them uncomfortable if they even think about signing up for that sort of work.

Gutting and over-pruning has taken over as a visible and damaging practice. Topping has declined in most areas and been eradicated in others.

Too bad proper pruning isn't as easy to see without being told what is there.
 

Reach

Been here a while
Location
Atglen, PA
Around here, there is a lot of it. Many companies, especially the Amish companies, love their poor pruning. Topping, rips, lion tailing, stubs, it’s all there. One company, whose work is featured in the picture below, has an ad in the local paper advertising their “pruning” done with their “new 90’ Dino lift” and the tree is completely flat on one side! They’re advertising that they will just saw one side off the tree completely!

They left this “tree” right down the street from my house, annoyingly enough; I guess it’s been “topped off” at about 25’.
 

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VenasNursery

Carpal tunnel level member
Location
Michigan
Around here, there is a lot of it. Many companies, especially the Amish companies, love their poor pruning. Topping, rips, lion tailing, stubs, it’s all there. One company, whose work is featured in the picture below, has an ad in the local paper advertising their “pruning” done with their “new 90’ Dino lift” and the tree is completely flat on one side! They’re advertising that they will just saw one side off the tree completely!

They left this “tree” right down the street from my house, annoyingly enough; I guess it’s been “topped off” at about 25’.
We have our fair share here also
Bad for the trees
But
Great for people like us
 

ATH

Been here a while
Location
Ohio
Are companies actually advertising or offering lions tailing as a service...by name? Or is this just another matter of they don't know what they are doing, but somebody is paying them to prune a tree, so by gosh, they're gonna take some branches out?

I agree with @Tom Dunlap that topping has significantly decreased (unfortunately, not eradicated here)...but it hasn't been replaced with proper pruning.
 

oldoakman

Been here a while
Location
Alorgia
Around here, there is a lot of it. Many companies, especially the Amish companies, love their poor pruning. Topping, rips, lion tailing, stubs, it’s all there. One company, whose work is featured in the picture below, has an ad in the local paper advertising their “pruning” done with their “new 90’ Dino lift” and the tree is completely flat on one side! They’re advertising that they will just saw one side off the tree completely!

They left this “tree” right down the street from my house, annoyingly enough; I guess it’s been “topped off” at about 25’.
That's what you are supposed to do to Crape Myrtles...so I am told.
 

Reach

Been here a while
Location
Atglen, PA
That's what you are supposed to do to Crape Myrtles...so I am told.
Crape Myrtles are more of a shrub than a tree, at least around here. Cutting them like that actually does make them nice and bushy, if that’s the look you want. You have to keep doing it though, or they just get wild.
 

Fivepoints

Branched out member
Are companies actually advertising or offering lions tailing as a service...by name? Or is this just another matter of they don't know what they are doing, but somebody is paying them to prune a tree, so by gosh, they're gonna take some branches out?

I agree with @Tom Dunlap that topping has significantly decreased (unfortunately, not eradicated here)...but it hasn't been replaced with proper pruning.
There's probably 20 companies in town that are advertising topping. I bet there's anouther 20 that will do it to make a buck.
 

Fivepoints

Branched out member
Crape Myrtles are more of a shrub than a tree, at least around here. Cutting them like that actually does make them nice and bushy, if that’s the look you want. You have to keep doing it though, or they just get wild.
Some of them here will get to 40 ft at the tips. Working on them requires a bucket as they are way out of polesaw territory. I had to prune a lead off one last week. It was hitting the front of the building. It was taller than the 3rd story.
 

Reach

Been here a while
Location
Atglen, PA
Some of them here will get to 40 ft at the tips. Working on them requires a bucket as they are way out of polesaw territory. I had to prune a lead off one last week. It was hitting the front of the building. It was taller than the 3rd story.
Wow, that’s tall! I don’t think they get to more than about 20’ around here. It’s probably too cold here for them to get that tall.
 

TreeVB

Branched out member
Location
Boise, Idaho
Darn shame that people can’t figure it out. At the end of the day it is job security for those providing it because they have to visit every two years to remove the epicormic.
When I first moved to Boise I did my research on local company’s to see who I’d be willing to work with as a contract climber. One of the larger outfits website had a “pruning” service called “centering”. There description was removing the entire interior(center) of the tree to improve the photosynthetic capacity of the outer crown. Sadly enough they are advertising here in the Job Finder section. I sent them a “friendly” email including some valuable education. They did take it off their website but I still see them raping trees.
 

Dan Cobb

Branched out member
Location
Hoover
Some of them here will get to 40 ft at the tips. Working on them requires a bucket as they are way out of polesaw territory. I had to prune a lead off one last week. It was hitting the front of the building. It was taller than the 3rd story.
I pruned (murdered) some very tall and large ones early this year. Customer wanted them down to about 10 ft. I just worked them much like a removal. Set a line on a central leader at 25 ft and used that TIP to work all the other branches.
 

Neill

New member
Location
North carolina
crape murder or crape rape- topping them. They are almost like a perennial plant in the way they handle heavy cutting. I’ve climbed a number of them doing deadwood and building clearance and they are kinda fun to me. About 40ft is the biggest I’ve worked on.
I will admit, I’ve been guilty of doing some lions tailing of late- a lot of building and light clearance work that gives little room to do anything else.
 

Serf Life

Carpal tunnel level member
Location
Maine Island
Pollarding is a form of topping (can be maintained for decades on decades) which ends up looking like clubs when the tops are cut back from all the callusing etc. Lions tailing is cutting everything but the foliage at the ends, think a Dr Seus creature/tree.
 

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ATH

Been here a while
Location
Ohio
I don't think it's a form of topping.
Initial heading cuts should be to nodes.
Agreed. Topping is an unacceptable pruning practice. Pollarding is not detrimental to tree health when done correctly...and is, in fact, a bit of an art form. However, I do see the comparison that it is "more like topping" than it is "like lions-tailing". But that doesn't make it a form of topping.
 

Serf Life

Carpal tunnel level member
Location
Maine Island
It takes all of the apical growth (tops/sprouts/vertical branches?) off in regular intervals. It is not “topping” as we use the term except for when the process is started, but all of the leaders are removed.
 

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