should I top my silver birch?

should I top my silver birch?

Postby happyflower » Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:58 pm

There is a 10 year old silver birch in my front garden which is too tall. I want to reduce it in height and have heard that topping is one way of doing this. Is this a good idea? What will the tree do? Will it look ok? Advice please.
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Re: should I top my silver birch?

Postby Treeman » Tue Mar 22, 2011 7:15 pm

Don’t do it, topping is a bad idea, if the tree is too tall now it will re grow and be too tall again. Fell it and plant something more sustainable
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Re: should I top my silver birch?

Postby Mojisola » Tue Mar 22, 2011 7:20 pm

Please don't. It will look awful and a silver birch is such an elegant tree when left to grow.

Go with Treeman's advice.
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Re: should I top my silver birch?

Postby arborlad » Tue Mar 22, 2011 7:37 pm

The best surgery is no surgery.
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smile...it confuses people
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Re: should I top my silver birch?

Postby Midori » Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:05 am

This time of year it is not advisable to prune a Silver Birch as the sap 'Bleeds' excessively and the tree could easily die.
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Re: should I top my silver birch?

Postby Treeman » Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:38 am

Midori wrote:This time of year it is not advisable to prune a Silver Birch as the sap 'Bleeds' excessively and the tree could easily die.


Another myth to bust.

Trees don’t “bleed” they don’t have blood. What you are seeing is the loss of water due to vascular pressure, the fluid would have serviced the missing branch.

Loosing that bit of fluid won’t kill the tree.
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Re: should I top my silver birch?

Postby happyflower » Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:30 pm

Thanks for the advice. I think i might get rid of it and plant a weeping pear instead.
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Re: should I top my silver birch?

Postby Birchman » Wed Jul 19, 2017 7:06 pm

It is NOT a myth that trees don't bleed.
Of cause they don't have red blood like we do, but they will bleed sap if pruned when the sap is rising (ie. in Springtime and when in active growth in summer).

Pruning an established Silver Birch or any of the Betula group of trees is going to cause some damage, and should be carried out when the tree is dormant in winter, and only if absolutely necessary.
Removing more than twenty-five percent of the canopy of a tree at one time weakens it and may be fatal. Never top a tree.
Birch tree borers and egg laying insects also cause unsightly damage to pruned trees and they can spread disease.

Birch trees are graceful trees but are not exactly long lived. There should not normally be any reason to spoil their appearance by pruning them unless they become diseased or damaged.
If a birch is planted in the wrong place (eg. too near to a building), it is usually better to remove it altogether.

I feel quite strongly about Silver Birch trees because I planted a seedling in my garden over 30 years ago and have watched it grow into a magnificent 50 foot specimen.
It's canopy provides dappled shade for garden plants in summer and autumn and a cool place to park the car during hot weather.
Unfortunately, I seem to be plagued by cowboy tree surgeons knocking on my door at all times of the year and asking if I want my tree topped or thinned out.
Most of them have absolutely no knowledge of when and when it is not safe to prune Silver Birch, or the difference between pruning and damaging the tree.

The latest cowboy was persistent even when I told him that I had no intention of allowing him to damage my tree. That was today.
He wanted to top it by 15 feet and cut all the branches by half, claiming that it was top-heavy.
I accepted the leaflet that he offered to me, in exchange for a leaflet of my own which highlights the do's and dont's of caring for Silver Birch.
Not that I expect he will take a blind bit of notice because there is no money to be made from simply leaving them alone to look their best.
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Re: should I top my silver birch?

Postby jdfi » Mon Jul 24, 2017 7:35 am

Birchman wrote:Not that I expect he will take a blind bit of notice because there is no money to be made from simply leaving them alone to look their best.


Well there is if the guy does it right, and has a couple of qualifications etc.

Consultancy, or arboriculture etc. Tree surveys and so on.
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