Topping a tree is the process of removing the majority of all branches and leaving the tree with little to no leaf matter, but doesn't a tree get it food/energy from its leaves. Yes, but we will get back to that later. The real question is why do homeowners want to top a tree? Make the tree safer is what I hear at estimates because a shorter tree it's safer. Does this make the tree safer? This doesn't make the tree safer it just made the tree more dangerous.
Danger number one comes from the new growth of multiple shoots at the end of each cut due to the tree's survival mechanism. These new shoots are weakly connected to the tree, unlike the branches that were removed that developed in a socket of overlapping wood tissue deep inside the tree, that created a strong connection. These new shoots can grow up to 20 feet in a year on some species so that shorter and safer tree isn't going to be very short or safe for long.
Danger number two comes from the fact that each cut made during the topping removed the tree's mechanism to heel its wounds, so the wood starts to decay from the top down.
Danger number three back to the leaves that are the factories that create the food/energy for the tree to live. Topping removes 50 to 100 percent of the tree's leaf-bearing crown. The tree now has to regrow a new leaf-bearing crown in the form of shoots, which wait if we recall that was the danger number one. Another, problem with the tree having to regrow its food factory is the stress to the tree. So, tree store 100% of its food in their branches, this stored food is meant to get the tree through winter, regrow new buds, leaves and grow in the spring. After topping the tree you removed 50% or more of its stored food, now the tree has to use the remain stored food to grow new shoots and leaf matter. This leaves the tree starved with less stored food to now fight disease and decay, wait a minute decay was danger number two, which the tree has to do now at each bad cut made by topping the tree.
Topping a tree comes with hidden costs that you may not know of. As mentioned earlier the new shoot can grow at a fast rate of speed meaning that the tree will have to be worked on sooner then if pruned properly, costing more money. After topping a tree it's life span has been greatly shortened, meaning the tree will have to be removed sooner once again adding cost sooner. Last but not least, increased liability potential. Topping trees is considered an unacceptable pruning practice, and damage caused by branch failure of a topped tree may lead to a finding of negligence in a court of law.
Information on Proper tree pruning methods "click here" to view our tree pruning page.