Why Is Topping of Trees Sometimes Required?

First, let us establish what topping even is. When it comes to the pruning of a tree, we are typically speaking of the removal of a free branches. Topping, however, is a much harsher way of pruning a tree, in which the trunk itself is sometimes even cut, and not just singular limbs. The purpose of topping is to reduce a tree’s height, often as means of harvesting its wood. Though when we are talking about residential trees, topping is very rarely even considered.

Why Topping Is Generally and Heavily Discouraged

When it comes to topping, it is most often in the context of a last resort to safe a tree after all else has failed. While there are people out there who consider topping a general option for pruning, that belief is usually based on a series of misconceptions.Some people hold the false belief that topping will reduce the thickness of a tree’s foliage. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. After topping, new shoots will sprout from the top that will grow even denser and quicker than the previous branches. That is, if the tree even survives the topping in the first place.

Tree trimming service in Bay Area knows that another dangerous misconception is that topping will decrease the likelihood of tree failure. But again, that couldn’t be further from the truth. After topping, a tree will be heavily unbalanced which could actually increase its risk of falling over. If you believe that your tree is structurally weakened, you should always consult an arborist before you do any cutting or trimming. And even if there is a risk, an arborist is highly likely to recommend alternate, and far less extreme, options.

Potential Consequences Of Topping

When a tree is topped, it is put under a lot of stress due to the heavy damages it sustained in the process. That stress is sometimes enough to cause the tree’s early demise. One of the main reasons for a topped tree’s death is the loss of foliage. With such a huge loss of leaves, the tree will no longer be able practice photosynthesis which will then lead to its starvation and death.

The lack of foliage will also leave the tree without protection against sun scald which will cause significant damage to its bark and leave it susceptible to infection and infestation. The same risks come with the open cut at the top of its trunk where the tree was topped. And even if it does spout new growth, that growth will also run risk of being damaged by insects and pathogens. It is important to call in the professionals when needed, so that they can do regular maintenance and check for any issues.


We hired Arborworks to remove 10 trees at our new house. There was a small overgrown forest going on. I don’t think anyone ever trimmed anything in this yard! Not only did they remove the trees and ground the stumps, they also took out our other items we had cut down ourselves.The biggest tree was almost three stories, you could see it towering over the house from the front and we have a two story house. Could not believe how efficiently they cut down that monster tree. Their guy who was in the tree – WOW he made it look easy but I know that it wasn’t! Knew what limbs to cut and where the limbs were going to fall. Was very impressed! We were there when they took all the trees out and I can tell you they definitely know what they are doing. They asked if we wanted the chips/mulch from the stump grinder otherwise they would have taken it away.I would hire them again in a heart beat and I’ve already recommended them! Great prices and GREAT service.
George R. Palo Alto, CAPalo Alto, CA


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