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Backyard Trees

Topped Tree
We all know wood has value. Just ask a logger or sawmill owner. A 10 acre stand of mature trees can be very lucrative for the landowner. But trees have value in other ways that we often take for granted, even if they have little to no timber value.


Beneath the shade of a backyard tree the temperature can be as much as 20 degrees cooler on a hot summer day. A tree can do much to reduce air conditioning costs during the warmer months. Deciduous trees admit sunlight onto our houses in the colder months.


Some other tree facts:

 1. Trees enhance a community’s economy by attracting business and shoppers.

2. People linger and shop longer along tree lined streets.

3. Apartments and offices in wooded areas rent more quickly and tenants tend to stay longer.

4. Businesses leasing office space in wooded areas experience more productivity and less absenteeism.

5. Trees clean the air by trapping and holding particulate pollutants that can damage lungs.

6. One acre of trees produce enough oxygen for 18 people for one day.

7. Communities with abundant trees experience less violence and crime.

8. Trees on a property increase home values.

9. A view of trees tends to shorten post-operative hospital stays when patients are placed in rooms with a view.


Trees are major assets along our streets and in our back yards, and like growing a stand of high quality timber, the asset can be enhanced by care and maintenance. Unfortunately, there are some common misconceptions about the care and maintenance of trees.


One of the most common is covering a wound on a tree with a thick tar-like substance. Research has shown that a tree does not “heal”, but rather compartmentalizes the injury by growing healthy wood around the wound. Applying a tar-like substance will inhibit healthy wood growing around the injury.

Tipping and topping is another common practice that is very damaging to trees. We’ve all seen it, but many probably don’t recognize it has being injurious. Topping, the pruning of large upright branches between nodes, is sometimes done to reduce the height of a tree. Tipping is a practice of cutting lateral branches between nodes to reduce crown width.


These practices invariably result in the development of many small epicormic sprouts. The epicormic sprouts will be weakly attached to the stem and eventually be supported by a decaying and dying branch.


Improper pruning such as cutting a branch too close to the trunk, or leaving a stub where the branch was cut are other practices that are long-term damaging to trees.


Fortunately, there are waysto reduce tree crown height, width, and properly prune branches that will take advantage of a tree’s ability to compartmentalize wounds, helping to keep a tree strong for years to come. An easy to access and understand resource is How to Prune Trees. Also, landowners may contact us for more information at 814-472-1862.


Contributed by Christopher Jones, Service Forester with the PA DCNR Bureau of Forestry



Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry foresters are available for assistance to private landowners free of charge.  Interested landowners can call


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