What is tree topping?

A topped tree versus a healthy tree, please do not top trees

Topping can cause trees to become hazardous 

Why do people top trees?

People don’t know how harmful it is to the tree and they see it as a way to decrease the tree’s size. Certified arborists and other legitimate landscape professionals do not practice tree topping. 

The biggest reasons people choose to top trees are because they want to:

  • Fix trees that interfere with electrical wires.

  • Shorten trees that grow too tall near their home.

  • Prevent the tall tree from coming down in a storm.

These are all good reasons to take action and care for your tree, but tree topping is not the way to do it.

How do I reduce the size of my tree without topping it? 

Hire a professional.  Find a City approved contractor or a licensed arborist.

  • Tree topping is never a justifiable pruning practice; it increases tree health problems and is aesthetically unappealing 
  • A topped tree will require more maintenance and has an increased potential to become hazardous 
  • Hazardous trees are a liability and ultimately the property owner is responsible for any damage hazard trees cause

What if I already have a topped tree? 

In some cases, the tree will have to be removed and replaced. If it is a street tree (a tree between the curb and the street) you may be eligible for the 50-50 Program which helps residents with some of the costs associated with removing and replacing street trees. You will need a tree permit.


Show All Answers

1. What is a street tree?
2. Who is responsible for maintaining street trees and sidewalks?
3. Can I do the tree work myself or have my gardener do it?
4. Why do I need a tree permit?
5. What criteria do you use to decide if a permit for tree removal will be approved?
6. How long does it take for a tree permit to get approved or denied?
7. What is tree topping?
8. The topped tree was here when I purchased the house. Am I still responsible to fix it?
9. This tree has been pruned like this (topped) for years. Why did I receive a notice about it now?
10. The tree is alive, why do I need to remove it?
11. How do I report a tree down on the sidewalk or street?
12. Tips for hiring tree professionals
13. What if I am concerned or would like to file a complaint about a neighbor’s tree?
14. Can I plant a street tree?