Does Topping a Tree Kill It?

Does topping a tree kill it? While your tree might survive this process, it’s unlikely. Even if it does, it won’t ever look the same again. In this post, Professional Tree Service, your reliable tree service contractor in Biloxi, MS, dives deeper into the topic. 

does topping a tree kill it

What Is Tree Topping? 

Topping is a technique that people use to shorten plants that are too big for their environment. This may be for backyard trees that are too big for the space or sidewalk plants that threaten electricity lines. 

When people perform this cut, they remove the entire crown and all the foliage with it. This breaks a cardinal rule of pruning in that you should never remove more than a third of the branches. 

Why Is Topping So Bad for Trees?

There are many pruning techniques that make sense. Tree topping isn’t one of these because it leaves an ugly trunk devoid of most, if not all, of its tree canopy. This extreme tactic causes trees significant distress with a high chance of killing them. The removal of the tree canopy disrupts the tree’s natural growth and health, leading to various long-term issues

The reason is that you’re removing the foliage the tree needs to feed itself. Essentially, you’re forcing it to draw on the reserves in its roots. It needs these nutrients for the upcoming winter, which means it will starve temporarily at some stage. 

However, what’s more damaging is that the plant sends out several shoots from any buds remaining. The plant focuses on quantity to replenish its canopy as quickly as possible. These water sprouts are weaker than normal and also strain the tree’s dwindling resources.

Topping Doesn’t Control Size

Maybe you’re willing to take the risk because you’re desperate to shorten your tree. If the process doesn’t kill the plant, it can exacerbate the issue. The sprouts the tree sends out can grow as much as 20 feet in a year. They’ll continue to grow until the tree reaches its original size, so this technique helps for a few months at best.

Topping Makes Trees More Hazardous

So, does topping a tree kill it? Not all the time, but what happens to the plant? Some people adopt this technique to make the tree safer and end up accomplishing the opposite. 

Topped trees are more at risk of disease and pest infestations because the process leaves multiple wounds. These act as potential entry points for a range of bugs and infections that can damage the plant even more. 

Not only that, but the new growth is more weakly attached because it nestles in the parent branches’ outermost layers. It has no other support and so can snap off relatively easily. Any other limbs experience the same kinds of issues, no matter how many years later it is. 

The Process Is Expensive

Removing the crown is a lengthy process, but it’s the regrowth that racks up the charges. You’ll have to deal with multiple branches at each cut point, meaning you have more trimming to do. If the damage kills the tree, you have to pay expensive replacement costs. 

If any of the new branches break and fall onto someone or something, you’re liable for the damages. This might include medical bills and costs related to lost wages. 

Call Us For the Right Solution

Does topping a tree kill it? There’s a high chance it will. If it doesn’t, it will severely weaken it. Moreover, it’s not an effective way of reducing the height or making the tree safer. What you need is an expert to evaluate the condition and age of your tree and then suggest a workable solution. 

Call Professional Tree Service at (228) 669-9388 to schedule a consultation today!

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