The Effects of Tree Topping on Tree Health and Growth

Tree Topping on Tree Health

When it comes to pruning trees, many homeowners opt for a technique known as tree topping. It is the process of removing large branches or even the entire top of a tree, leaving behind stubs that can be harmful to the tree’s health. While it may seem like a quick and easy way to maintain the size and shape of a tree, this process can actually have serious negative effects on tree health and growth. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at its effects and why it’s important to avoid this harmful practice.

1. Weak Branches and Stubs

In the process of topping a tree, you would be cutting off the main branch or trunk at the point where it meets another branch. This leaves behind a stub that is not only weak but also susceptible to disease and decay. This is because there are no longer any leaves on that branch, which means that it has no way to produce food for itself. Without this food source, trees will not be able to maintain their strength or health and are more likely to break off during storms or high winds.

2. Increased Risk of Disease

When you remove branches from a tree, you also remove its ability to circulate fresh air throughout its canopy. Without this circulation, mould and mildew can begin forming on your tree’s trunk and limbs. These spores can quickly spread through your entire tree if not properly treated with fungicides or other treatments.

If left untreated, these diseases can kill your tree within months or even weeks of the initial infection. Topping also prevents water from being properly distributed throughout the canopy, which causes leaves to become dry and brittle and increase their susceptibility to disease.

3. Sunscald:

The biggest concern with topping trees is sunscald — damage caused by excessive exposure to direct sunlight. When large branches are removed from a tree, there is less shade on its trunk and lower branches. This causes them to dry out more quickly than usual, which can lead to further problems later on down the road if not dealt with properly.

4. Reduced Lifespan:

Tree topping can reduce a tree’s lifespan by as much as 20 years or more! Not only do trees need their branches for support and energy storage, but they also use them as conduits for nutrients and water through their vascular systems. Without these necessary elements, trees are unable to grow properly or thrive in their natural environment. This leads us to our next section:

5. Ugly Appearance:

When large branches are cut off, they leave behind open wounds on a tree’s trunk and limbs. These wounds slowly close over time, but they never fully heal. In some cases, these wounds may never heal at all, leaving behind unsightly scars that can last for years. In addition to making trees look unappealing, this practice also increases the chance of disease and decay in affected limbs and trunks.

6. Reduced Property Value:

When you remove large branches from your trees, you’re essentially removing portions of their overall foliage. This means that they won’t be able to provide shade or block out noise pollution as effectively as they used to. As such, your property value could decrease by as much as 5%.

Not only does this mean that you may need to spend more money repainting or re-roofing your home sooner than expected; but it also means that you might find yourself struggling with pests such as termites or carpenter ants in the near future.


Although tree topping may appear as a convenient and straightforward approach to pruning a tree, its detrimental impact on tree health and growth highlights it as a harmful practice that must be avoided. By adopting alternative pruning techniques and collaborating with a certified arborist, homeowners can promote the health and aesthetic appeal of their trees.