Tree Topping is a process by which a Tree’s height is reduced either by removing some of the main trunk, or by removing limbs at the top of the tree. Despite its popularity among residential homeowners, its application is best utilized by the wood harvesting industry – and rarely suggested for residential trees.
Tree Topping is not a solution for excessive leaf debris. Despite what one may think, after removing a large portion of the tree’s growth area does not prevent more leaves from falling. In fact, the new shoots that tend to grow in place of the old growth actually result in fuller and more rapid leaf growth.
Tree Topping is also rarely the best course of action to prevent a tree from falling. Root systems grow opposite of a tree’s natural lean in order to balance the weight distribution of the tree. Removing the top of a tree can actually disturb the tree’s natural balance.
The Dangers of Tree Topping
While there are legitimate cases where tree topping can help to salvage a tree under the guidance and direction from a certified arborist, it is absolutely a last resort as it may lead to extreme health risks for the tree. When the tree is first topped, the tree’s ability to process food is cut down, which, in addition to potentially starving the tree to death, will also increase its risk of sun scald, bark damage, and decay causing organisms. The stubs left behind from the cut are also more susceptible to insects and pathogens, as are the newer growths on the tree.
Do Not Attempt Tree Topping
Not only is Tree Topping dangerous to the tree itself, but it is one of the most dangerous procedures in the tree pruning industry. While Tree Thinning and Tree Skirting can often be accomplished by a cautious and well prepared lay-person, we recommend that you always consult a certified tree expert or certified arborist before even considering topping a tree.