Don’t Top Trees

Never cut main branches back to stubs. The sight of topped trees is all to common in the communities and along the roadways of America – trunks with stubby limbs standing naked in the landscape, trees stripped of all dignity and grace.

Trees are often topped because they grow into utility wires, interfere with views or solar collectors, or simply grow so large that they worry the landowner. But as one arborist has said, “Topping is the absolute worst thing you can do for the health of your tree.”

Why not to top: 8 good reasons

  1. Starvation: Topping removes so much of the tree’s leafy crown that it dangerously reduces the tree’s food-making ability.
  2. Shock: By removing the protective cover of the tree’s canopy, bark tissue is exposed to the direct rays of the sun. The resulted scalding can cause the tree’s death.
  3. Insect and Disease: The exposed ends of topped limbs are highly vulnerable to insect invasion or decay fungi spores.
  4. Weak Limbs: New branches that grow from stubbed limbs are weakly attached and more liable to break from snow or ice weight.
  5. Rapid New Growth: Instead of controlling the height and spread of the tree, topping has the opposite effect. New branches are more numerous and often grow higher than before.
  6. Tree Death: Some tree species can’t tolerate major branch loss and still survive. At best, they remain weak and disease-prone.
  7. Ugliness: A topped tree is a disfigured tree. Even with new growth, it never regains the grace and character of its species.
  8. Cost: The true cost of topping is often hidden – lower property values, expense of removal and replacement if the tree dies.

Proper pruning – the alternative to topping

When a decision is made to reduce the size of an older tree, it can be topped, or it can be pruned properly. Although the speed of and nature of regrowth will depend on species and local factors, any comparison between irresponsible topping and competent pruning will be dramatic.

  • Year 1: The topped tree is an ugly stub and a remnant of a once lovely tree. If pruned properly, the tree’s size is reduced but form and beauty are retained.
  • Year 3: Vigorous sprouts have sprung out of the topped tree in large numbers and are growing with abnormal rapidity. The pruned tree adds growth, but it does so more slowly and distributes it more normally.
  • Year 6: In a relatively short time, the topped tree is as tall – and far bushier and more dangerous – than it was to begin with. The properly pruned tree is safer, more beautiful, and its size is better controlled.

Article from the Tree City USA Bulletin of the National Arbor Day Foundation. Download and post a copy of the Don’t_Top_Trees.

Proper Pruning of Sabal Palms

Protect Florida’s vulnerable state tree – NO OVER-PRUNING – it is a harmful and unnecessary practice. Consider the facts of over-pruning:

  • Sabal Palms (commonly known as cabbage palms) are self-pruning palms, shedding dead fronds in high winds. They have survived droughts, fires and floods, enriched the soil and adapted to coastal and inland environments for thousands of years. Their spring flowers and winter berries are vitally important to the survival of migratory birds and Florida’s indigenous wildlife species. (It is OK to remove fruiting structures at some point, because they do become  safety hazards near traffic areas after awhile.)
  • Cutting healthy green fronds steals the palms’ source of nutrients, permanently stunts growth, invites disease and reduces the palms’ natural resilience to high winds.
  • Over-pruned palms develop bottleneck trunks. In high winds and hurricanes this stressed and weakened point will cause the palm to break off and die.
  • Pruning of protective green fronds makes the palm’s heart cold-sensitive and susceptible to winter frosts and freezes.
  • Over-pruning causes native and migratory songbirds, woodpeckers, butterflies, honey bees, tree frogs, bats, anoles, squirrels, and other wildlife to lose valuable food, shelter and nesting area.
  • Work boots and climbing spikes create wounds in the trunk leaving the palm prone to disease.
  • Though not necessary, it is acceptable to prune brown and yellow fronds hanging below an imaginary horizon line. Pole pruners work best. Prune stems away from the trunk.  Green fronds should not be pruned.

You Can Make a Difference

  • Do not cut green fronds.
  • Say NO to landscapers who want to prune green fronds. Exclude annual over-pruning from your landscape contract.
  • Keep lawn mowers, weed eaters and chain saws away from the trunk. These wounds are permanent and allow disease to enter the palm.
  • Mulch around palms to conserve water and keep out weeds, eliminating the need for weed eaters.
  • Enjoy your landscape, add fallen fronds to your compost or brush pile for wildlife. Fronds make rich soil for use in garden beds!
  • Work together to save and protect our valuable sabal palm, an integral part of Florida’s ecosystems.
  • Help spread the facts.  Copy this information to help educate others!

This information was obtained from a brochure created by Amy Mosher and friends in an effort to save Florida’s natural landscape, and supported by Central Florida Palm Cycad Society and the Florida Native Plant Society. Download and distribute, for free, non-commercial purposes, the flyer: Save_Your_Sabal_Palm

Boys & Girls Club Records KMB Theme Song

Keep Manatee Beautiful received a wonderful New Year’s gift from The Manatee County Boys & Girls Club–a new theme song!  The song was recorded by members of the Palmetto Club and it celebrates the values of a cleaner and healthy environment.    Verses discuss planting a tree to promote a positive change, picking up trash on roads and shorelines to enchance the outlook of our community, working together to show support for one another and the environment, and the excitement of positive change to foster and build a better place.

Take a moment to listen to the wonderful song.  The best part is knowing that the youths at the Palmetto club have taken our mission to heart!

Manatee Beaches Earn Clean Beaches Council “Blue Wave” Flag

The Clean Beaches Coalition awarded five “Blue Wave” flags to Manatee County in recognition of Anna Maria Island’s pristine beaches on November 14, 2012.  The five beaches recogniezed are:

  • Cortez Beach
  • Manatee Beach
  • Coquina Beach
  • Holmes Beach
  • Anna Maria Beach

The beaches were certified by the Washington D.C.-based council in May. The Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (BACVB) was presented with the “BLUE WAVE” flag at its National Tourism Luncheon on May 9. The certification designates Manatee County Beaches as healthy and clean.

The Blue Wave program is the first national environmental certification for beaches.  Now in its 13th year, the program is recognized as a reliable benchmark for well-maintained beaches and eco-friendly tourism. For more information on the Clean Beach Council, visit

School Art at Pride Park

A graffiti-plagued fence at Pride Park is getting a make-over thanks to teachers and their student artists from five public schools in the Pride Park and Ten Oaks neighborhoods.  They are painting murals of what their neighborhood means to them with the goal of beautifying their neighborhood, so as to develop pride and sense of place reflective of their overall community’s quality of life.

Daughtrey Elementary School, Oneco Elementary School and Harllee Middle School painted their concepts Saturday on October 6.  Abel Elementary School and Southeast High School will work to complete their art concepts by National Night Out in Pride Park, an event scheduled for October 19 to reinforce confidence and promote ownership of their neighborhoods.

The project was sponsored by a $2,500 grant from Keep America Beautiful’s Graffiti Hurts program and a matching grant from Keep Manatee Beautiful.  Partnering organizations include Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Crime Prevention Unit, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, the School District of Manatee County and the Southeast Residents Association.  Other contributors include the Manatee County Utilities Dept. Solid Waste-Recycling Section and Faith Bradburn Keller, an award winning artist and graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design.

See article on 10News