What Is Tree Topping: A Short Guide

Many homeowners find unruly tree growth inconvenient at best and dangerous at worst. If you don’t trim and prune your trees regularly, their branches can grow outwards and pose falling hazards or get caught on power lines. 

This is why tree care professionals recommend tree topping to regulate tree growth. So, what is tree topping, and do you need to call tree service experts in Alexandria, VA, to do it? 

What Is Tree Topping, and Do You Need It?

Tree topping is the practice of removing large tree branches at specific growth points. Typically, topping removes the central stem of the tree (the leader) and the upper main branches to produce uniform height. Tree topping is best done on mature trees. 

Topped trees have small branches called water sprouts that grow from the cut points. Professional tree cutters top trees to remove dead and diseased branches, as well as prevent branches from growing into power lines or the owner’s property.

You may also need tree topping if your tree canopy is too wide, preventing sunlight from reaching your home. 

Pros and Cons of Tree Topping

What is tree topping, and what are its benefits or drawbacks?

While most professional tree care companies offer tree topping, you should know the pros and cons of this service.


More Space

If you have a small outdoor space, tree topping might be necessary since there isn’t enough room to accommodate lateral branches. When trees grow out too wide, you won’t be able to landscape your outdoor space. 

Prevents Diseases from Spreading

Tree topping can help prevent the spread of disease in trees infected with anthracnose or cankers. Removing diseased branches, twigs, and leaves removes spore bodies or bacteria growths.

However, you need to be careful with tree topping diseased trees. Pruning wounds can leave behind entry points that will allow secondary infections. 

Easier Maintenance

If you have a lot of trees in your outdoor space, chances are that you spend a lot of time cleaning up leaf litter and other organic debris. Additionally, tree sap can stain your property. Many homeowners find cleaning up tree debris tiresome and inconvenient.

Tree topping can help keep your outdoor spaces clean and litter-free. However, you need to weigh the effort of cleaning your outdoor space against the possible adverse effects of tree topping. 


Affects Tree Health

There’s no getting around it— tree topping can negatively affect tree health. Removing parts from the mature tree impacts its structural integrity. The water sprouts are also comparatively weaker and more brittle. 

If you recently topped your trees, they might not survive a strong storm or a typhoon. 

Permanent Results

Trees take a long time to reach maturity, and tree topping results are irreversible. You need to ensure that your situation is dire before you opt for such a drastic service. You don’t want to regret the decision and end up with an ugly tree!

Can Affect Local Wildlife

Unfortunately, topping trees affects local wildlife like birds, squirrels, and raccoons. Habitat loss is a serious concern for wildlife, and tree topping has massive effects on local ecosystems. 

If you choose to top your trees, you can provide alternative habitats for local wildlife, such as birdhouses or homemade squirrel dreys. 

Trustworthy and Efficient Tree Health Services with Hernandez Complete Tree Service

Now that we’ve answered, “What is tree topping?”, the question remains whether you need the service. Generally, mature and robust trees only require pruning and trimming to stay healthy. Here at Hernandez Complete Tree Service, we offer reliable and affordable tree care services and a short guide to tree pruning at home.

Call us at 240-299-4639 to learn more.