Why Is Tree Topping Bad?

When a tree on your property has grown undesirably big, you might want to chop the top off to reduce the tree size. We call this practice topping. However, before you do it, you should ask yourself, is tree topping bad?

In this blog post, the trusted tree care experts in Columbia, MD, will tell you what topping means and why you shouldn’t do it. 

is tree topping bad

What Is Tree Topping?

Tree topping has many names, including stubbing, heading, tipping, rounding-over, dehorning, and lopping. It involves indiscriminately and drastically cutting a tree’s branches. You can top your trees for various reasons, including:

  • Reducing the size of tall trees growing near your house
  • Fixing a tree that interferes with power lines
  • Preventing tall trees from falling in extreme weather conditions

While you can consider all these as valid reasons for ensuring your safety while maintaining your trees, you’ll find better approaches than topping. 

How Topping Hurts Trees

Is tree topping bad? The simple answer is yes! So let’s discuss just a few examples of how this practice can hurt your backyard trees:

Reduced Aesthetic Appeal

Topping your tree will significantly alter its natural form and visual appeal. It’ll leave behind ugly branch stubs, gaping wounds, unhealthy branches, and other unsightly defects. 

Hazardous Structure

Once you top your tree, it may quickly develop dense, weak, straight branches known as water sprouts. Sadly, sprouts resulting from topping usually have weak attachments. They can easily snap and cause serious damage to property or injuries. 

Poor Tree Health

Topping deprives your tree of its ability to manufacture its food as it destroys most of the foliage. This also causes the tree to use valuable food stored in the roots and trunk to regenerate the branches and limbs. 

As if that’s not bad enough, topping redistributes energy usage, and this can adversely impact the tree’s physiology. 

Pests and Disease Attacks

The drastic chopping of limbs through topping leaves the rest of the limbs exposed to sunshine. This means excess heat, which can damage or kill the tree’s living tissue. We call this phenomenon sunscald. 

Topped trees usually have a hard time protecting themselves against sunscald. It’ll also take them a long time to close the wound resulting from topping. Such wounds often fall prey to insect infestations and fungi. 

Reduced Tree Value

If you perform topping on a large ornamental tree, its value can go down by thousands of dollars, thanks to the detrimental effects on its appearance, health, and overall structure. 


You certainly don’t want this to happen, but in severe cases, topping can kill your tree. 

Contact Your Local Tree Experts for Assistance

Is tree topping bad? It can make your tree ugly, unhealthy, valueless, and even kill it. If you need help with tree care, Affordable Tree Services is the go-to local arborist in Columbia, MD. 

We provide a wide range of services, including:

  • Tree removal
  • Tree trimming and pruning 
  • Stump grinding

Call us at 301-512-5531 for a free estimate or to learn the dangers of bad tree pruning today! 

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