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This is a poor butchered willow from my neighborhood. It will never look normal again. It’s not near a house. I have no idea what prompted the owners to do this.

Years ago, while living in Parker Arizona, I noticed that there were a lot of trees pruned to look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. As a tree lover, it just seemed wrong on a gut level, and I didn’t understand why anyone would do that to a tree.

Our yard there had a large mulberry tree out front that had been topped in the recent past. We got a knock on the door asking if we wanted our “tree cleaned up” to which I responded “absolutely not”. We let that tree do its thing, even though the shape never looked right. Southern Arizona is an unforgiving climate, with daytime temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 months out of the year. The last thing this tree needed was to have all of its branches removed. The last thing we wanted was a reduction in shade.

Once we took the 12 week (now 17 week!) Arizona Master Gardener program in 2020, we better understood the ins and outs of why topping trees is such a bad idea. I’ve been meaning to write a blog post on this for a very long time. The recent butchering of some mature sycamores in front of a winery in our town prompted me to finally put this piece together.

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Jennifer Kleffner

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