by Adrian Higgins – Washington Post
Spring has been a long time coming this year. But the wait is over, and the next month will bring an especially vivid carnival as delayed blooms join those unfurling on schedule.
This floral parade may help distract us from a widespread practice that reaches its peak in March: the mutilation of crape myrtles, a deed that arborists label “crape murder.”
So why is it done? The short answer seems to be “because everyone else does it.” That includes landscaping crews who move through commercial and residential landscapes at this time of year, only to leave a forest of stubs.
The best option for a butchered tree is to cut it to the ground — actually, an inch or two above the soil line but no higher: No stubs, please. From the established root system, new shoots will return with vigor. After a couple of years, the tree can be pruned to leave a desired structure of five or so upright stems that leave an open center and pleasant silhouette.