Share this page

Don't Top Your Trees!

Don’t Top Your Trees!

“Tree Topping” is the practice of severely pruning all of the limbs of a tree down to stubs, removing most, to all, of the leaf crop and all of the primary growth regions.  This procedure can be inexpensive initially, but costs much more in the years after it is done.  Topping is also called “heading,” “tipping,” “hat-racking,” and “rounding over.”

Tree Topping Myths
Myth #1:  Topping a tree will reduce storm damage and make the tree easier to maintain.
Truth:  The growth on a topped tree is extremely weak and fast growing making it more susceptible to breakage and storm damage.  A topped tree will require more attention in the future than a properly pruned tree.

Myth #2:  Topping invigorates a tree.
Truth:  Topping a tree immediately decreases the health of a tree and sends it on a downward cycle.  Wounds may never close and begin to decay wood. 

Myth#3:  Topping a tree keeps it from getting too big.
Truth:  Trees are designed to get to a certain size depending on what type of tree it is.  A tree should be allowed to grow to its full potential.  If the tree is too big for its location then it was not the right tree for that location.

Alternatives to Topping
Consult with a certified tree professional to give you opinions on what can be done properly to promote the health and look of your tree.

Check to see if your tree care professionals are members of a the International Society of Arboriculture.  The ISA conducts extensive courses and certifies those who pass an industry-based exam.

Never let anyone talk you into topping your tree it will cost you in the long run.