For the 17th time, Staunton is nationally recognized as a "tree city." But in a city dedicated to its trees, there's also a trend that's destroying the trees.
Matt Sensabaugh is the horticulturist for the city of Staunton and a certified arborist. He says tree topping is when someone improperly cuts a tree to a specific height.
"There's some people out there - I don't agree with them - that think that that looks nice. I think it looks horrible myself," Sensabaugh said.
Chapman Williams, also a certified arborist, said, "It certainly gets my blood boiling when I see beautiful trees being butchered and topped."
He says it's not just a matter of aesthetics, but also of safety.
"When you top a tree you have a lot of shoots that come out of those points where they're cut. Those shoots are very weakly attached. You get into a storm situation - high wind, ice, snow load like we had just recently. You get a lot of breakage," Williams said.
Sensabaugh says topping makes trees vulnerable.
"It's much more likely to become infected. It's much more prone to disease, much more prone to decay," he said.
And while some people may think topping is cheaper, the arborists say it's actually more expensive in the long run.
"Once you top a tree you're going to have to come back and re-top it every couple years, where if you're properly structure pruning a tree it would cost far less over the life of the tree," Williams said.
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