Tree Topping

Tree Topping – Why it’s bad


Tree topping is the indiscriminate removal of both living and dead branches and limbs from the top and sides of a tree’s canopy. This can be detrimental to the long-term health of the tree. The larger the pruning cut, the longer it takes for a tree to seal/wall off the wound. Trees don’t have the ability to heal so they try to compartmentalize damage. Some tree species are better at it than others. The longer it takes to seal off a wound the more susceptible a tree becomes to getting attacked by insect, pests, fungi, and bacteria. Another issue with topping trees is that it could prevent them from producing enough food to survive, thereby starving a tree to death. Trees produce most of their food in their leaves. If a large percentage of the canopy is removed, then the tree will try to produce a flush of new vegetative growth from epicormic sprouts below the pruning cuts to jump start the food production process. Epicormic sprouts arise from adventitious or dormant buds on trees typically due to increased exposure to sunlight after the tree has been damaged. Unfortunately, these sprouts are poorly attached to the tree. Once they get heavy enough, the sprouts tend to break off. Crown reduction is the recommended practice for reducing the height of a tree. It involves the removal of large branches at the top and/or side of a tree back to smaller lateral branches that are at least 1/3 the caliper size of the removed branches.

Trees Are Good - Why Topping Hurts

Proper Pruning