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Tree Topping

​​Never “top” your Trees


If you drive around the county in the winter or early spring, it is likely that you will see some trees that have had a recent encounter with a chainsaw. Many of them have been “topped”, or had their crown and major structural branches removed. This practice is detrimental to trees and causes more harm than good.


Topped Trees

When a tree is cut this way, all of its vegetative branches are removed. That is, the limbs that grow leaves are now missing. Without these limbs, the remaining support branches cannot perform photosynthesis. Therefore, the tree will quickly regrow as many vegetative limbs as possible to support itself. The result often looks something like this:

tree 2.jpg 

The new growth is weak due to its unnatural attachment to the support branches. These young limbs will easily break off when a strong gust of wind comes by or an animal disturbs them.

Compare their growth pattern with that of a healthy tree. The branches smoothly transition in size and blend naturally from larger to smaller. This pattern is similar to that of the veins in the leaves of the tree.


Trees with a natural growth pattern are stronger and less likely to crack, fall, and drop limbs in your yard. They also have more tolerance to diseases and pests as they have fewer injuries.

If you love your trees and hate picking up limbs, never top your trees. Hire a certified arborist to trim your trees to make sure you are doing what is best for you, your landscape, and your tree.


-Anna Duncan, Extension Agent | UT/TSU Extension- Coffee County

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