Tree Topping Risks Aren’t Worth It

Tree topping risks on full display
Image by inkflo from Pixabay

Tree Topping Risks Far Outweigh the Benefits

Considering tree topping as an alternative to traditional tree pruning? Please don’t. Tree topping risks are much greater than the reward. In fact, it’s one of the worst things you can do to your trees and causes a lot of problems.

Tree topping is the act of removing a huge portion of the top of a tree leaving only branch stumps behind. Some homeowners opt for tree topping if they feel their tree has grown too large for their property. But it can cause major health issues for your tree and create a huge safety hazard near your home.

Tree Topping Harms the Structural Integrity of Your Trees

According to the ISA, because tree topping removes “50 to 100 percent of a tree’s leaf-bearing crown,” the tree will struggle to recover. Many will quickly become malnourished and often die. And even if the tree doesn’t die quickly, the damage can still be significant. A malnourished tree with “large, open pruning wounds is more vulnerable to insect and disease infestations.” These infestations can also spread to other plant life on your property if left untreated.

Tree Topping Leads to Injury and Property Damage

Oftentimes, people top a tree because they’re worried it has grown too large and poses a risk. However, this actually creates a greater safety hazard. As mentioned above, this process greatly weakens trees which can result in branches and even the entire tree falling. This can lead to major damage to your home, severe injury, or even death. Additionally, you need to consider the insurance liability this creates. Due to the tree topping risks listed above, this “is considered an unacceptable pruning practice” and “any damage caused by branch failure of a topped tree may [be considered] negligence in a court of law.”

Tree Topping Ruins the Look of Your Trees

God didn’t design trees to be topped (which is why it weakens and kills them). But this is also obvious when you look at the difference between how a topped tree regrows its crown versus one that wasn’t topped. If a tree has been properly pruned, the crown will regrow naturally. On the other hand, if topped, it will return at a rapid pace and have an unnatural appearance. This can also hurt your property value and curb appeal when trying to sell your home.

So, What Should You Do Instead of Topping a Tree?

Each tree will require a different approach. If it is a small ornamental tree with little branches, you can simply remove them “back to their point of origin.” However, larger trees and limbs should be handled by an experienced local arborist who can address them properly. In some cases, this may require removing multiple large limbs, but there are instances where the tree needs to come down altogether.

We encourage our readers to avoid doing their own tree work, especially if it requires getting on a ladder. DIY tree care is extremely dangerous work that is best left to the pros. If you live in or near Somerset, PA, we would love to assist you with your tree care needs.

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