Why Topping Hurts Trees

What is Topping?

Topping is cutting branches back to stubs, or lateral branches, not large enough to sustain the remaining branch. Topping is often used to reduce the size of a tree. Topping is NOT a viable method of height reduction and does NOT reduce future risk, but in fact will INCREASE RISK in the long term.

Why Topping Hurts Trees

When topping a tree, 50 to 100 percent of a tree’s leaf bearing crown is removed. Leaves are food factories for a tree and by removing them can temporarily starve a tree and trigger various survival mechanisms. Dormant buds are activated and force rapid growth of multiple shoots below each cut. The tree needs to put out a new crop of leaves as soon as possible. If it doesn’t have the stored energy to do so, it will be seriously weakened and may die.

Topping not only stresses trees, but also leads to decay, unacceptable risk and sunburn.

Topping makes trees ugly by removing its natural branch structure.

Topping is also expensive because it leads to:

• Increased maintenance cost
• Reduced property value
• Increased liability potential