The topping of trees is unfortunately common practice for those who are less experienced. Professional certified arborist know that this is an unacceptable pruning procedure.
A tree sometimes needs to be pruned to avoid interference with utility lines, buildings, or parts of the surrounding environment. Whenever pruning is required, it is important to avoid the practice of topping – the removal of all parts of a tree above a certain height with no consideration for its structure or health.
While long thought to reduce a hazard, topping is a temporary and ineffective solution that actually makes a tree more hazardous in the long run.
Topping “starves” trees by robbing them of their food-creating leaves.
Topped trees (in an act of defense) create shoots that grow quickly (up to 20
feet in one year) and are prone to breaking.
Topping makes trees more susceptible to insects and disease.
Topping creates “high maintenance trees” that are expensive to treat, repair,
and care for.
Reduction pruning is an effective alternative to topping. It reduces the size of longer branches by cutting back lateral ones. Some branches are removed at their point of origin.
Avoid excessive thinning of interior branches. It can lead to rapid growth of upright interior shoots and limb breakage.
The best way to learn to manage tree growth and maintain tree health is to consult a Certified Arborist. These tree care professionals know how to safely prune trees, and they can teach homeowners how to best maintain and care for them.