I have a love affair with trees.

It’s true.  I love their beautiful branch architecture, foliage and the dappled shade that they provide.  Living in the desert Southwest, shade is a valuable commodity with the relief it offers from the intense sun and cool temperatures it offers.

For all these reasons and more, I can’t fathom why people would prune their trees like this, stripping them of all their beauty and much of their function.

The phrase that comes to mind when seeing something like this is badly pruned trees or how ‘not’ to prune trees.

Unfortunately, this is just one of many trees in this parking lot that have fallen prey to terrible pruning practices.

As a certified arborist, I see many bad examples of pruning, but I can honestly say that the trees in this parking lot are the worst.

Years ago, my husband and I used to live next to the area in Scottsdale and the appalling pruning that was done to the trees was well known by me.  

 On this lovely day, the kids and I were on our way home from the Desert Botanical Garden when we drove past this shopping plaza.  I quickly made a detour to see if anything had changed.  

Sadly, they hadn’t.  So, I took out my camera and started taking photos.

See if you can guess what each badly tree is:





Feel free to leave your answers in the comments section.  After guessing, click here for the answers with examples of what the trees should look like when properly maintained.  

Needless to say, you don’t need to know what type of trees they are to realize that they have been ‘butchered’.

I recently shared some examples of ‘butchered’ trees and asked you to try to identify what each tree was.  You can take the quiz here, if you like before seeing the answers, below.

As promised, here the photos of badly pruned trees and what they should look like:

#1 – Desert Fern (Lysiloma watsonii)

#2 Shoestring Acacia (Acacia stenophylla)

#3 Chilean Mesquite (Prosopis chilensis)

#4 Palo Brea (Parkinsonia praecox)

‘Topping’ of trees is not only unsightly, it is also unhealthy – leaving trees susceptible to biological and environmental stresses and actually makes them grow faster and use more water.

For more information on why ‘topping’ is bad for trees, click here.