Paper birch tree - when and how to top? Hello!!!, we have a paper birch tree...

Asked April 13, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT

Paper birch tree - when and how to top? Hello!!!, we have a paper birch tree - one main big trunk, two smaller - all which fan out and lean. - maybe 45 feet high - small back yard with fences and garages to worry about. Should we top it?, prune it? I have been reading - no more than 25% overall, after September? I assume hire a tree trimmer, but still want to make sure it is done properly. I found a website that does address it: , but want to make sure. Thank you!

Baltimore Maryland trees and shrubs pruning tree pruning pruning river birch

1 Response

Good pruning practices do not include "topping" trees, i.e. chopping back the top, sort of like a crew cut. Even though some tree pruning companies still "top" trees, this actually makes the resulting new tree branches more weakly attached to the tree and thus more apt to break off.

So, how to lower the top of a tree that is too tall? Please read our website's publication on pruning plants:
"Crown Reduction" on page 6 is what you'll want done to your tree.

Incidentally, paper bark birch is generally not planted in Maryland anymore. Riiver birches are planted in Maryland, because the paper birch is susceptible to bronze birch borer and eventually dies of it. Both of these birches have light, curling bark, but the river birch is not as white as the paper birch.