Regular maintenance and proper pruning is essential to keep your yard trees happy and healthy, increase your property value, and keep your home safe. The practice of tree topping should never be confused with proper pruning techniques. Still a commonly used practice, let’s take a look at why tree topping can be so destructive.

Weak shoots grow quickly from a topped tree, making them more susceptible to breakage and storm damage.

Tree topping is the drastic removal of large branches in mature trees, often used as a way to reduce the size of a tree that has become too big for it’s space. Homeowners do this when they fear property damage from the tree or want more sunlight. Properly pruning can easily solve these issues while maintaining the natural look of a tree. When a tree is topped, it creates large, open wounds and triggers rapid growth of many small shoots that are weakly connected. Trees Virginia, the Virginia Urban Forest Council, developed an Anti Topping Brochure to inform people about this to help you make an educated decision NOT to top your tree.

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So, what should I do instead?


  • Contact a local tree care professional for consultations to see how you can best care for your trees. If they offer tree topping, you may want to consider finding a new company.
  • If you are planting a new tree in your yard, consider tree size, species, and spacing needs that match with your site conditions to avoid any future problems.
  • If your tree has been topped, check out this post by Davey Trees to see how to promote healthy recovery.
  • Join your local chapter of Virginia Tree Stewards to learn more about trees and get involved with caring for your urban forest.
  • Take the pledge to become a River Hero Home and get discounts on native plants and services!