Tree Trimming: Is Tree Topping Bad for Trees?

Naturally growing, no trimming for these lucky trees!

In their natural state, trees are magnificent works of nature’s art. At times, trees in populated areas out grow their space and require tree trimming.


Tree trimmed using improper techniques

Poor tree trimming practices

This is an example of how not to trim a hardwood tree. All of the natural lines and beauty of the tree were destroyed when someone trimmed this tree like a bush! This tree was just trimmed in the fall of 2016. It hasn’t had time to show the structural effects of poor tree trimming techniques.


Example of a topped tree

Reasons why topping trees is detrimental.

This is a perfect example of ‘topping’. The tree was topped at the point where the shoots start to grow straight up. There are several reasons why trimming trees by topping them is not an acceptable practice. Removing too many limbs at once can cause the tree to be starved for nutrients, and it may go into shock. Severe tree topping could kill an older tree because the tree’s foliage provides it with nutrients. Large limb stubs of a topped tree struggle to heal, resist insect invasion and disease. This picture shows a perfect example of how rapidly the new growth grows, usually giving the opposite effect of the intent. The straight stalks are probably only a few years old. Because several shoots grow from each cut, these joints are weaker than a typically growing tree limb. Finally, the tree is ugly. Nature did not intend for trees to look this way. At Vic’s Tree Service, we pride ourselves on using acceptable pruning techniques to maintain, the beauty, safety, and the health of trees.




Tree topping, more info


International Society of Arborculture, Arborists’Certification Study Guide, International Society of Arborculture, 2001.