Top Tips: Why You Should NEVER Top Your Trees

Walk down many a residential street in Georgia, and a sad sight will meet your eyes: rows upon rows of topped trees marching down the street. When the tree is in leaf, this manifests as a weird, flat crown with leaves and shoots pointing straight upward. In winter, the result is knobby limbs that end in large, unhealthy-looking bulges.

That’s because those trees are unhealthy. While topping is still promoted by some arborists, most now know that it’s a mistake. It destroys fall displays, makes trees more susceptible to damage in winter, and ruins their look. Here’s why you should avoid this move at all costs, and what to do instead.

What is Topping?

Topping, explains the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension, “is where trees are trimmed back to a few large diameter, older structural limbs.” The person topping the tree uses loppers or a chainsaw to cut off limbs regardless of their health, the position on the branch or the needs of the tree.

Why Do People Top Trees?

As the NC Cooperative Extension says, “Maybe you’re worried about limbs or the entire tree falling on your house during an ice storm, blocking your mountain view, or just creating too much shade in the yard.” In an effort to get those “nuisance” branches out of the way, they simply mow the tops off.

Why Should You Avoid Topping at All Costs?

Unfortunately, topping is a terrible idea. It:

  • Forces the tree to compensate by producing unsightly vertical shoots that block the view anyway
  • Produces quick-growing new limbs that are structurally weak and pose a danger
  • Stresses trees and makes them more prone to disease
  • Removes too much of the leafy part of the tree, which reduces photosynthesis and can effectively starve the tree

This isn’t the right way to treat a tree, folks. Instead, you need to look for other solutions, such as thinning the tree or, if possible, moving it to a more desirable location. But whatever you do, don’t go it alone.

Why Should You Speak to a Professional?

The simple answer is: so you don’t permanently maim or kill your tree. A professional such as Premier Tree Solutions will help you assess the health of your tree and find a different path to arboreal perfection, so don’t wait: Give us a call today.