Tree Trimming: Is Tree Topping Bad for Trees?

Naturally growing, no trimming for these lucky trees!

In their natural state, trees are magnificent works of nature’s art. At times, trees in populated areas out grow their space and require tree trimming.


Tree trimmed using improper techniques

Poor tree trimming practices

This is an example of how not to trim a hardwood tree. All of the natural lines and beauty of the tree were destroyed when someone trimmed this tree like a bush! This tree was just trimmed in the fall of 2016. It hasn’t had time to show the structural effects of poor tree trimming techniques.


Example of a topped tree

Reasons why topping trees is detrimental.

This is a perfect example of ‘topping’. The tree was topped at the point where the shoots start to grow straight up. There are several reasons why trimming trees by topping them is not an acceptable practice. Removing too many limbs at once can cause the tree to be starved for nutrients, and it may go into shock. Severe tree topping could kill an older tree because the tree’s foliage provides it with nutrients. Large limb stubs of a topped tree struggle to heal, resist insect invasion and disease. This picture shows a perfect example of how rapidly the new growth grows, usually giving the opposite effect of the intent. The straight stalks are probably only a few years old. Because several shoots grow from each cut, these joints are weaker than a typically growing tree limb. Finally, the tree is ugly. Nature did not intend for trees to look this way. At Vic’s Tree Service, we pride ourselves on using acceptable pruning techniques to maintain, the beauty, safety, and the health of trees.




Tree topping, more info


International Society of Arborculture, Arborists’Certification Study Guide, International Society of Arborculture, 2001.

The Emerald Ash Borer (agrilus planipennis)

The emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire, is a green jewel beetle native to eastern Asia. It was first found in the United States in 2002. Since then, these beetles devastated millions of ash trees. The adult beetles are emerald green in color and about 1/2″ in length. They feed on the ash foliage and typically cause little damage. It is the larvae that can cause significant damage. They feed on the inner bark of the ash trees and disrupt the trees’ ability to transport valuable nutrients. Adult EABs leave a characteristic D shaped hole, when they emerge from the tree in the spring. Woodpeckers love the larvae, and they feed on infested trees, causing even more damage.

Larvae and woodpecker damage from an EAB

There are several options for treating EABs. It is best to have an arborist determine whether your tree is a good candidate for treatment. Infestation can cause trees to lose 30% to 50% of the canopy after two years and die within three to four. Trees that are good candidates for treatment usually have at least 50% of their canopy still alive. The result of the feeding and tissue destruction from the larvae is directly evident in the canopy. Because many insecticides are transported through the trees’ vascular system, they may not work if the vascular system is already significantly damaged.

EAB D-shaped exit hole

Issues to consider when deciding to treat or remove an ash tree infested with EABs include the following:
1. The health of the tree.
2. The financial and sentimental value of the tree.
3. The cost of the treatment and the prognosis.
4. The cost to remove the tree.
5. Optional, the cost to replant another tree.

It is never easy to determine when to remove a tree. Careful consideration should be taken to make the most cost effective decision.

Vic’s Tree Service


Emerald Ash Borer Information Network

Insecticide Options for Protecting Ash Trees From Emerald Ash Borer

Hungry Pests: Frequently Asked Questions – Emerald Ash Borer USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Yes, You Should Plant Trees in the Fall


Can’t you feel it in the air? Bitter cold winds are sweeping down from Alaska, and will soon bring signs of first frost to northern Virginia. The regions residents are now spending more time raking leaves of red and orange than they are resting under verdant canopies, but don’t let the shorter days and dropping temperatures fool you: Fall is optimal tree-planting season.


Root growth, thats why! When trees and shrubs are planted in autumn, the root systems are given a chance to grow before the summer heat arrives with a vengeance. The best time for Fall planting is six weeks before the first sign of hard frost, and while we’re probably well past that point, there’s still time.

Grab your shovel and your gardening gloves. Bushes and shrubs will settle their roots, and sleep through winter’s cold, only to flourish come spring. But if you’ve got a mind to do a little fall planting, do it this week, and don’t wait. Planting too late in the season will only have a negative impact on your new tree’s health.

November brings cooler temperatures and more rainfall, which means your saplings need watering less often. With cooler temperatures come decreased photosynthesis processes, and trees that need less water altogether. Where does all of this lead? To the promotion of rapid root development, that’s where. The air grows cold much faster than the soil does; tree shoot development slows, and then falls into dormancy during cold weather months, which in turn allows the tree to grow and establish its network of roots.


But won’t my neighbors think I’m crazy? Now is the time for chopping down evergreen trees, and stringing lights on the roof.

Your neighbors might look sidewise, but come spring, when your trees are lush, they’ll be green with envy. Trees planted in the fall retain more inherent moisture, and can better withstand extreme heat and drought. And not only that: While trees are beautiful year round, never is that more true than in the fall. Plant in the season of foliage, and set your yard ablaze (figuratively, of course) in style.

We should note, though, it is inadvisable to plant broad-leaved evergreens arhododendrons, azaleas, boxwoods, etc. Opt for one of these autumn-weather loving species instead: maple, buckeye, horse chestnut, alder, catalpa, hackberry, hawthorn, ash, honey locust, crabapple, amur corktree, spruce, pine, sycamore, linden and elm.

Five Great Places to Enjoy Fall Foliage Near Washington, DC

Don’t you just love Autumn? Vic’s Tree Service does!

The sun is warm, but not hot. The nights are cool and crisp. Campfires burn, and the smell of warm apple cider wafts from open windows everywhere. But perhaps our favorite aspect of Fall is the foliage and oh, the colors. As we creep toward mid-September in northern Virginia (yeah, okay, and everywhere else in the northern hemisphere, too.), the trees that dot our lawns, line our streets, and fill our forests are ablaze in Autumn’s full glory.

Nature lovers in the Washington, DC metropolitan area rejoice in the Fall, for one mustn’t travel far along the busy roads and highways to discover winding paths and a bounty of reds, and oranges and golds.

Places To Visit

Rock Creek Park
An urban oasis, Rock Creek Park encompasses more than 1750 acres, extending for more than 12 miles from the banks of the Potomac River to the District of Columbia’s Maryland border. Visitors to the park can escape from city life; enjoy a picnic or a hike; and commune with nature among the National Park Service-protected forested landscape.

Harpers Ferry National Park
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia can be found where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet. Just more than an hour’s drive from our nation’s capital, the adventurer’s haven offers scenic hiking trails, the trees, the colors, guided tours, and tons of Civil War history to boot.

Burke Lake Park
Fairfax County residents, know this: You don’t have to travel far to enjoy the abundance of riches that Fall has to offer. Burke Lake park is home to a 218-acre lake, and varied recreational opportunities that include fishing, camping, boating, and (according to the American Hiking Society) one of the country’s ten best fitness trails.

Black Hill Regional Park
Black Hill Regional Park sits on more than 2000 acres near Boyds, Maryland. Hikers and bikers and horseback riders can enjoy the spectacular sight of Fall foliage as it decorates the shores of Little Seneca Lake. Ten miles of trails and a serene landscape prove the perfect escape for any tree-hugging, wildlife-loving leaf peeper.

Mount Vernon Estate
Mount Vernon was George Washington’s home, and has become one of the most scenic tourist attractions in the area. On the 500-acre estate sits a 14-room mansion, outbuildings, a breathtaking garden, and a museum. Visitors to this mansion on the river might be surprised to learn that the man, George Washington himself, fashioned very specific plans for his expectations of the garden, but they surely won’t be disappointed by the vibrancy and breadth of color on display.

Where is your favorite place to enjoy Fall foliage near Washington, DC?

The Wood That Make Guitars

We’re in the business of cutting down trees.  There are all kinds of reasons people call us for tree service, from removing dead wood to storm damage repair. But instead of information about how or why you may need some tree service, we thought we’d explore some of the beauty that wood provides long after it is cut.

You see, when a tree is cut down it doesn’t always signify the end of its life. The precious wood is often transformed into timeless pieces of beauty, form and function. There is no better example of this than in the guitar. Let’s take a look at some of the wood species that help guitars come alive with music.

Brazilian Rosewood on the Back of a Martin D-28

Brazillian Rosewood – This is the holy grail of acoustic guitar tone woods. Used on the back and sides of acoustics, it produces a warm, rich sound. Many of the vintage acoustics by Martin used Brazillian Rosewood. “Pre-war” Martins refer to those guitars made after the switch to steel strings – the early-mid 1920’s – but before the start of World War II, when resources were scarce. While it can still be found on guitars, legal limits placed on harvesting have these instruments very expensive, often well over $10,000.00.

East Indian Rosewood – This took the place of Brazillian when the rainforests of south America were put under too much pressure. Since it is so abundant and tonally similar to the Brazillian variety it makes a great wood for guitars. Typically, Rosewood will produce a warmer, more low end sound than other choices. It makes a great wood for guitars used for rhythm and singer-songwriter situations. Here is a great example from Huss & Dalton – a boutique guitar maker from right here in Virginia.


Mahogany – this is a fantastic tone wood and is used for many applications. On an acoustic guitar it is used primarily on the back and sides of a guitar. Mahogany produces a brighter, crisp sound. It can produce the low end needed for rhythm, but the high end can cut through other instruments making it a great choice for a string band or bluegrass.

Mahogany is also used for other parts of the guitar. Gibson, one of the world’s most recognizable guitar manufacturer, uses mahogany for guitar necks as well as the bodies for many of the electric guitars.

Maple – You’ll find some fantastic guitars featuring maple wood. Most notably, The venerable Fender Stratocaster is offered with a maple neck. The clean, light color of the maple makes a striking appearance. Though you’ll find a good split between guitarists who favor the rosewood fingerboard, many prefer the clean look and feel of the maple neck and fret board.

You’ll find many acoustic guitars with maple used as the primary tone woods. These guitars produce a sparkling, bright tone which can sound wonderful for finger style performances. It also produces some stunning finishes when the maple is quilted or in birds-eye. Quilting is a wavy pattern that can emerge in the grain. Birds-eye is another pattern in the grain that features tiny circular swirls all throughout the grain.

Sapele – Pronounced “Sah-pee-lee” or “Sah-pay-lay” This wood is from an african tree and it very closely resembles mahogany. In recent years it has become more and more popular for guitars as mahogany becomes more scarce.



Koa – what a beautiful wood! Hawaiian Koa can produce incredibly beautiful guitars (and ukeleles!). It is sometimes used for the body construction, but more often, it is the accent trim including rosette, headstock trim, and binding that can be made from Koa. Waverly – a company known for their high end tuners – makes tuning knobs that feature flamed loa buttons.

Sitka Spruce – this is the defacto standard for the tops of most acoustic guitars produced these days. Taylor Guitars says that near 90% of its guitars have Sitka tops. The wood has enough flexibility to produce the vibrations needed to make a guitar sound great, but it is also strong enough to withstand the tensions placed on a guitar top.

Adirondack Spruce – sometimes called “Red Spruce” this is the be-all-end-all for bluegrass pickers. Many players like that the “Addie” top will produce a bigger sound without getting muffled or thuddy. Because of the big top end and the ability for a player to drive a lot of sound, this wood is used almost exclusively on larger bodied guitars used for rhythm or for aggressive flat picking.

There are scores of other woods used on guitars. Taylor Guitars has a wood selection feature on their website that provides pictures and even more details on a variety of woods.

Most guitar manufacturers are wonderful stewards of the environment. Check out this story about how the guys at Huss & Dalton, a Virginia guitar maker, rescued some Mahogany logs from the bottom of a river, where they had been for some 100 years! Â Of course all the major manufacturers have declared a deep commitment to the environment.

Sure, we cut down trees for a living, but that doesn’t mean we don’t fully appreciate the beauty that this natural resource brings to our lives through music.

Five Trees That Make Great Roommates


It goes without saying that, at Vic’s, we like trees. They’re kind of our thing. We like big trees, and little trees, and trees that bear fruit, and trees that don’t. We like evergreen trees, and trees that change color in the fall. We like trees that live outside, and even trees that live inside.

Yes, that’s right. Some trees thrive indoors. These, in particular, make decorating a breeze. Each bears beautiful leaves; they’re all easy to take care of, and will purify your air to boot. Beat the shorter-day blues with one of these leafy green beauties.


Commonly known as the umbrella tree, the Schefflera’s large, glossy leaves might just make you think you’ve been whisked away to the tropics. This plant needs medium to bright light, an ambient temperature of 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and soil that’s kept moist. When properly cared for, the Schefflera could grow up to eight feet tall and six feet wide.

Fiddle-leaf Fig

Hey, trends and trendy for a reason. The fiddle-leaf fig is a popular indoor tree pick, largely due to its large leaves and striking shape. This plant needs medium to bright light, and an ambient temperature of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Your tree will need watering when the topsoil feels dry to the touch. Take good care, and the fiddle-leaf fig may grow to be 15 feet tall and five feet wide.

Dracaena marginata

You may have heard of this referred to as a dragon tree. You don’t have to have a green thumb, or to have won any awards to keep houseplants. The dragon tree is tough, quite drought-tolerant, and colorful. It needs bright light, and loose, well-drained potting soil to survive. With intermittent watering — allow the soil to dry, but not completely the dracaena could grow up to 10 feet.

Rubber tree

The rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) is versatile, and loves living indoors. Trim it short as a shrub, or let its shiny, dark green leaves grow wild and stately in the corner. This plant needs medium to bright light, an ambient temperature of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and to be watered when the soil feels dry to the touch.

Lemon tree

Your house will always smell of lemon! Enough said. This robust plant should summer outdoors, and come inside to thrive in the winter. It will either flower or bloom all year. The lemon tree needs moderate light, an ambient temperature between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and soil that is kept most, but drained. Keep it happy, and it could grow up to eight feet tall.

Adopt a tree today.