Get It Right! Tree Topping Versus Crown Reduction

Pruning your tree is an essential part of keeping it healthy and your property safe. The act of pruning is a precise science that keeps trees healthy by promoting growth, preventing branch failure, and removing unhealthy growth.

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When your tree’s crown gets too big, how do you safely reduce it? Tree topping or crown reduction? Which is better? They are the same, right?


While they have the same goal of reducing the tree’s crown, tree topping and crown reduction are not the same method!

Topping trees is strictly forbidden in professional standards and many local regulations outlaw this practice on city-owned trees. Poorly trained arborists may utilize this technique. Crown reduction is permitted and encouraged in the same standards and regulations and is used by skilled arborists. Here is the difference between tree topping and crown reduction and why you should never top your trees:

Tree Topping Harms Your Trees

Tree topping is never an acceptable pruning method! This technique is one that indiscriminately removes branches from the crown of the tree, and leaves unsightly stubs of branches.  Some refer to topping as “hat-racking” since the tree resembles a hat rack when the job is complete. Branches are cut without regard to nearby lateral stems and the resulting stubs will decay and promote decay. In addition, the tree struggles to attempt to deal with these wounds and may be weakened to the point where decline and death is imminent.

These large wounds are slower to heal and can attract pests like borers that will attack weakened trees. They will also be more susceptible to sunburn and decay.

Crown Reduction Is A Safe Pruning Method

Unlike tree topping, crown reduction is a safe and healthy pruning method that shortens the height of a tree or branches by only cutting select limbs to the next lateral growth as small as possible to maintain the tree’s frame. This helps promote faster healing and correct regrowth.

No more than 25% of the tree’s canopy should be removed at once when reducing a tree’s crown. Crown reduction also helps remove stress from trees from too-heavy branches and reduces the chance of them breaking off in storms.

What If The Branches Are Dead?

If the crown branches of your tree are dead, then deadwooding is needed to remove them. Dead branches can harbor pests and spread disease to other trees and pose a falling hazard that could harm people and property.

Dead limbs could also be a sign that your tree is suffering in some other way. Hiring a professional tree service like Hansen’s will meet with you to diagnose your tree’s needs and guide you through the best course of action for your tree’s health.

Hire A Professional Tree Company That Doesn’t Top

If a tree care company insists on topping your trees, find another provider like Hansen’s Tree Service.

At Hansen’s Tree Service, we will never top your trees! We understand that the technique is detrimental to the looks and health of your trees and it is always our goal to provide you with the best up-to-date tree care.

Our team of ISA certified arborists and Board Certified Master Arborists are here to answer your questions and give you the best tree care possible.

Contact Hansen’s Tree Service Today

For Your Hassle Free Estimate!

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