Tree Topping vs Proper Pruning

Proper pruning will keep the tree in a natural state. It will not create undue stress on the tree or cause problems such as poor fruit production, disease, and circumstances in which the tree needs to be removed altogether. Tree topping is a detrimental way of reducing a tree, and cause all of these things. Here are some reasons why proper pruning is a better approach.

Food Production

A tree uses the leaves in its crown to provide food for the development of its roots and capillaries by photosynthesis. Tree topping destroys the crown of the tree and can lead to the tree starving to death. Proper pruning will leave the tree with most of its crown intact. Also, topping off the tree can cause enough stress that if the tree is flowering or producing fruit it will cease production until the tree is healed.


In the normal course of events a tree can protect itself against invasive diseases and molds. Tree topping makes such a massive series of injuries to the tree that it cannot protect itself. Molds and insect pests will proliferate in the damaged tree tissue. Proper tree pruning removes only minor parts of the tree and leaves wounds that the tree can handle quite comfortably. The threat from molds and insect pests will be reduced.

Weak Recovery

When a major limb is lost from a tree the replacement limb is never as strong as the original. Tree topping removes virtually all of the major limbs of a tree, reducing it to a bare skeleton. The haste with which the tree has to repair the damage will lead to all the new growth being weak. Tree trimming removes only secondary growth. The major limbs of the tree are left to continue to provide the strong support that the weight of the canopy requires.

No Recovery at All

For many trees the massive reduction in their structure is just too much damage to sustain. Although they might make feeble efforts to regenerate some areas, a tree that has been topped is often doomed to die. Responsible tree pruning removes nothing that is vital to the survival of the tree.

Proper Pruning

Proper pruning should take place each season and not be excessive in nature. Pruning branches that are well formed won't cause many of the issues listed above. By maintaining the tree season after season instead of after long periods of neglect, the pruning can be part of the growth process and not something done to “fix” the tree or reshape it.