Nine Reasons Why Not to Top Your Tree

Tree topping - Tucson Landscaper


Driving around Tucson, viagra sale  I have noticed a lot of trees lately that have been topped.  What is topping?  According to Trees Are Good from the International Society of Arboriculture “Topping is the indiscriminate cutting of tree branches to stubs or lateral branches that are not large enough to assume the terminal role. Other names for topping include “heading, ” “tipping, ” “hat-racking,” and “rounding over.”  Essentially, your tree ends up looking like it got a flat top haircut.

Why do people top their trees?  Here are some of the reasons:

  • They don’t want to have to trim their tree again for a long time.  And, they want to save money.
  • Their views are blocked by the tree.
  • They want a smaller tree.
  • The tree is too big and dangerous.

Topping trees doesn’t resolve any of these problems.  It creates even more problems in the long run.  Here’s what actually happens when you top a tree:

  • The branches that are left try to regenerate the branches that were removed by growing new branches from the ones left.
  • These branches are loosely attached and can easily break off during a strong wind.
  • The branches grow back even thicker than the ones that were originally there making a visibility problem even worse.
  • The smaller tree ends up with a bigger and thicker tree canopy.
  • The tree has to be trimmed even more often to remove the regrowth of branches costing even more money.
  • Big trees become even more dangerous when they are topped.
  • The large amount of branches cut opens the tree up to diseases and insect problems.
  • The tree can become sunburned from having all the top branches removed and it can become damaged.
  • The tree may have trouble photosynthesizing because so many leaves were removed.

What is the right way to trim a tree when you have the problems mentioned earlier?

First of all, always plant the right tree in the right place.  If you do this you will avoid a lot of problems including having a tree that grows too big or is blocking your view.

Second, trim trees properly by not removing more than 25% of the branches during any one trimming.  And, always take a branch back down to the next branch section.  Don’t leave a stub on the cut branch.  Here’s an example of how a branch should be cut.

Where to cut branches - Tucson Landscaper


Here’s what you end up with when you top a tree:


It may not look so bad at first but later on you will have a tree that is weak and has lots of problems.

If you’re interested in more information about tree topping the International Society of Arboriculture Trees are Good site has detailed information about tree topping and proper tree pruning.

Call us at (520) 370-5697 if you have any tree trimming questions.

Deborah Munoz-Chacon, Certified Arborist

Sonoran Oasis Landscaping

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  1. These are great points! My neighbor is always trimming and cutting then asks me to, and i tell him sure one day..

    • It’s probably time for a trimming then Christy.

  2. great info!

  3. great info!

  4. Thank you for this great education!

  5. This is a problem in Phoenix, AZ. I learned this lesson when neighbors topped their tree and I didn’t top mine (both about 50 years old). Boy, was I happy and boy, they were not!!!

    • A lot of people don’t realize the problems with topping until after they’ve had it done. Good for you Tina.

    • You’re welcome Savannah. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  6. Great information to know. Why don’t landscapers tell people not to do this. Wait, I know…. some people just don’t listen.

  7. Well, thank you, this makes a lot of sense to me.

  8. This is great info. A lot of people don’t know this!

  9. Never knew this. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Well…if you don’t learn something new everyday as they say!

  11. Great advice. Thank you

  12. Great tips. I have made the mistakes myself

  13. Wow, I didn’t know that, thanks, a good thing to remember :)

  14. Interesting. I’ve heard a lot of things about this… some people in Florida call it ‘harsh pruning’ of palm trees and they pretty much cut everything off, I think it looks goofy… and it’s really bad for the tree :)


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