By Charlene Byers, Colorado Master GardenerSM, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Denver County
"Topping" your tree can cause problems for both the tree and the property owner.
Topping is defined as the drastic removal of large branches with little regard for location of the pruning cut. Most often, these branches are removed from the top of the tree. Better long-term results can be achieved with more selective pruning practices.
Row of "topped" trees
Throughout the United States, tree pruners, both professional and amateur, have resorted to tree topping to keep trees away from power lines, manage the size of large trees, and to keep trees small and compact. However, research has shown that compared with trees that were not topped:
When pruning your trees, follow sound pruning practices. The Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Service has several fact sheets on proper pruning. They include no. 7.205, "Pruning Evergreens," no. 7.206, "Pruning Techniques for Shrubs," and no. 7.207, "Pruning Deciduous Trees." Access these fact sheets online or contact your local county Extension Office for copies of these and other documents on trees.
Photographs courtesy of Judy Sedbrook.
© CSU/Denver County Extension Master Gardener 2010
888 E. Iliff Avenue, Denver, CO 80210
Date last revised: 01/05/2010