What Is Tree Topping, and Is It Important?

what is tree topping

There are many tree pruning and trimming techniques available. Besides improving your tree’s health, trimming and pruning can improve your tree’s appearance. This improvement includes the tree’s general shape and structure. 

Unfortunately, some techniques, like tree topping, take things too far. Some homeowners may ask, “What is tree topping?” Many of them also wonder whether or not tree topping has any pros that outweigh its cons. 

For the most part, topping trees is a technique deeply looked down upon in the arborist community. We will explore tree topping in more depth and when to call a reliable tree removal contractor in Fairfax, VA.  

What Is Tree Topping? 

Tree topping is removing a tree canopy, consisting of its upper central stem, individual tree crowns, and upper primary branches. The tree is typically sheared at an even height. Topping results in thin and upright branches called water sprouts. 

Besides tarnishing a tree’s natural beauty, no real benefits exist for tree topping. Some homeowners top their trees to reduce their overall size and height. This size reduction is usually for safety concerns or to create a better view. 

People sometimes top a tree to trigger growth in an aging tree. A topped tree can produce many suckers to grow from its wound, promoting growth. However, this new growth is susceptible to insects, pathogens, and fungi. 

Overall, topping can quickly compromise a healthy tree and does little to help an aging or dying tree. Fortunately, better alternatives exist. Canopy thinning, for example, is a better alternative often recommended by arborists. 

Unfortunately, homeowners can still fall victim to the allure of tree topping. We’ll explore the harmful effects of tree topping in more depth. 

Five Harmful Effects of Tree Topping

When asking, “What is tree topping?”, you should know it can cause the following consequences:

More Sunlight Exposure 

A tree’s canopy shades the rest of the tree from UV rays. Removing this canopy means that the tree’s bark will suffer from damaging UV rays, causing sunscald. Additionally, any vegetation around the tree will become overexposed to sunlight as well. 

Hinders the Ability to Create Food 

A tree needs its leaves to create and transfer necessary nutrients. Without its canopy, a tree will quickly starve to death. Even when trimming or pruning a tree’s upper branches, you shouldn’t remove more than one-fourth of its crown. 

Can Cause More Falling Tree Limbs

Homeowners often top trees to prevent property damage from falling limbs. However, topping a tree can have the opposite effect. The reason for this opposite effect is that any new limbs that grow attach weakly to the tree, becoming easier to break off. 

Can Attract Many Pests

Many pests, like bark-eating insects, woodpeckers, fungi, rot, and tree diseases, prefer attacking a weakened tree. Vast wounds left from topping are prime real estate for many pests. Once a vulnerable tree becomes infested, it becomes nearly impossible to stave off tree decay. 

Topping Can Be Expensive 

On the surface, tree topping is sometimes cheaper than alternative methods like thinning or tree removal. However, you may spend more money recovering your tree’s health and dealing with property damage. 

Additionally, a topped tree reduces your home’s resale value. As a result, you may need to remove the tree anyway. 

Call Us Today 

The most straightforward answer to “What is tree topping” is that tree topping is ineffective. This method can compromise a tree’s health, attract pests, and cause property damage. Alternatives like thinning or complete tree removal are far safer and more effective. 

Learn the reasons why cutting a tree can be a good thing by calling Woods Tree and Landscaping today at (703) 478-4704!

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