If anyone saw me trying to repair my truck’s engine, they’d probably say, “Poor fellow — how much work he’s making for himself.” And they’d be absolutely correct.
Along a similar random and ill-marked path, I frequently see gardeners doing things that don’t seem logical and I want to say something, but it never feels right, so I usually stay quiet and move on. But I can still wish for them to find an easier way.
If I could wave a magic wand to help gardeners enjoy the world’s greatest hobby to the fullest, there are several things I would recommend.
To think in terms of interior decorating, if you need a chair for the living room, you don’t necessarily buy the flashiest one in the store (brightly striped vinyl beanbag). You buy one that fits in with the rest of your decor. Beyond that, furniture stays the same size year after year, but your new plants will grow, so you also must know what their mature sizes will be. That way you’ll never have to ask the question of “how far back” you can trim any plant.
Topping crape myrtles and shade trees is never justifiable. There is no good reason. If the plant is growing too tall or wide for its location, move it during the winter transplanting season and choose something smaller. Topping slows the blooming of crape myrtles, and it leaves ugly and permanent scars in their branching.