Should I cut the top out of my tree to make it safer?

Trees for Energy Conservation April 27, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

Trees should never be "topped." Removing the uppermost stem and branches of the tree will disfigure the tree, distort its growth and shape, pose a greater risk of sunscald to the inner portions of the tree and open a large wound that is prone to disease and insect problems.


Trees that are topped will respond by sprouting dense upright branches near the pruning cut. These are often referred to as "water sprouts." These branches are weakly attached to the branches and tend to break off easily. A topped tree may end up in a far more hazardous condition than with the original growth.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.