Thinking Of Taking The Top Down? 3 Reasons You Should Think Twice About Topping Your Tree

If your tree has gotten tall, you may think that topping it is the answer. Topping is the process of removing the upper portion of a mature tree to reduce the height. The procedure is designed to make your tree safer. Unfortunately, that's usually not the case. In most instances, topping causes irreparable harm to your tree.

1. It Alters the Appearance

When you top a tree, you alter the appearance. That's because you end up taking off a considerable amount of the uppermost branches. As a result, your tree may end up looking short and wide, instead of the fuller shape it had before. Unfortunately, once you've topped a tree, you'll never be able to regain the original appearance. To avoid destroying the appearance of your tree, avoid topping.

2. It Causes Instability

As trees grow into maturity, they develop a root system specifically designed to maintain stability. Not only that, but the trunk and the bottom branches work to maintain balance throughout the tree. Part of that stability involves the upper branches, or the top. Once you remove the top branches to reduce height, you also reduce stability. That's because the weight is no longer distributed evenly throughout the tree. As a result, your tree will be more susceptible to topping during wind storms.

3. It Creates an Unhealthy Situation

If you've decided to top your tree, you should know that the procedure could lead to some unhealthy situations. In fact, the procedure could cause health problems for trees that were previously in good health. That's because topping takes away a vital portion of the tree.

Sun Damage

If your tree is exposed to the sun each day, there's a good chance that topping could lead to sun damage. The canopy – or top of the tree – provides a shelter for the remaining branches and leaves. Once the top has been removed, the sun will beat down on the previously unexposed portions of the tree, leading to sun damage.


Rot can destroy an otherwise healthy tree. Unfortunately, topping can lead to an increased risk of rot. That's because topping can introduce bacteria and unhealthy organisms to the exposed portions of the upper branches, which will allow it to spread throughout the tree.


If you top your trees, you run the risk that they'll no longer be able to receive the nourishment they need. Topping removes the crucial top layer of leaves that help absorb nutrients from the sun and water. Once those branches and leaves are removed from the top, the rest of your tree won't receive the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.

If your tree is in need of pruning, don't try to top it yourself. Contact a tree trimming service and ensure professional care.