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Tree Topping or Crown Reduction: What’s the Best Way to Prune Your Tree?

Every tree, whether it’s within your property area or in the neighbourhood, has an allocated space beyond which it cannot be allowed to grow. But if for any reason, it ends up overgrowing that space  , it is very important to know how to chop the tree down safely, without harming your property or the adjacent neighbourhood. However, one question still remains unanswered – which is – how to safely trim the excess portion of the tree, in a professional way? Tree topping, or crown reduction?

Tree Pruning & Trimming

Tree trimming is often used to decrease the size and form of trees (and it is also known as pruning). Tree trimming comes with several advantages. For example, it can control the excessive development that may destroy the tree’s form and, if it’s too big, the tree can cause damage to your neighbour’s property. Pruning may also help prevent infestation of diseases within the trees by improving airflow through the tree’s canopy.

Pruning Methods

There are several ways to trim trees but the most common types for taller trees are Tree topping and crown reduction.  But which of these two approaches works best? Which of these will not damage or disfigure your tree? Which option is most recommended by arborists?

Let’s dig up lesser-known facts about these two methods:


What is Tree Topping?

Tree topping involves cutting big branches from the treetop and leaving only lateral branches and stumps. They’re also known as hat-racking, rounding over, heading, or tipping.


Is it Good or Bad for your Trees?

Unfortunately, topping trees is not a good way to manage their size. Expert arborists believe that topping should never be used as a main pruning technique. It should only be used to cut down undesirable trees.


Effects of Tree Topping

Because the tree is left with lateral branches and stubs that are too small to produce and transport food throughout the tree, topping causes many issues. It not only reduces the tree’s ability to produce energy but also encourages the development of less attractive vertical branches, permanently disfiguring the tree.

The tree’s branch wounds heal slowly, leaving it vulnerable to fungus and insect infestation. Because topping removes the tree’s limbs and foliage, it exposes the tree’s bark.


Benefits of Topping Trees

Topping trees comes in useful when a tree has been severely damaged by a natural disaster. In such cases, tree topping may be the only option. Tree topping may shock a tree, preventing it from feeding. This may cause illness and possibly death. Tree topping may also endanger the surrounding environment, so you should always think twice before doing it.

What is Tree Crown Reduction?

Tree crown reduction is one of the most popular techniques used by arborists to regulate tree size and form. It’s also better than tree topping. This technique includes removing the tree’s leaves while retaining the crown’s basic form and structure. Generally, branches towards the top of the tree’s canopy are pruned to reduce the tree’s height. They are only removed to the next lateral growth to promote quicker healing and healthy regrowth. To prevent causing harm to the tree, just 20% of the canopy should be removed at a time.


Effects of Tree Crown Reduction

Unlike tree topping, tree crowning does not damage trees. The trees’ health improves significantly since the trees are properly pruned and the infested or dead limbs and branches are removed. Crown reduction also adds to the aesthetic beauty of the trees, thus enhancing the visual appeal.

Trimming your trees correctly may help boost fruit production and improve fruit quality. Also, reducing the crown of a tree helps it get more light and improve air circulation.

Between crown reduction and tree topping, the former is unquestionably the better option for large trees. Crown reduction not only maintains the tree’s size balance but also its natural form and health.


When in Doubt, Hire a Professional Arborist for a Risk-Free Experience

We hope that this article helped you make a decision between tree topping and crown reduction. If you’re really keen on having your trees pruned in the best possible way, take the aid of a professional arborist like us. We will guarantee that your tree’s health and shape are well taken care of.

Reach out to ProArb Canterbury Arborists for all your tree service needs in Christchurch at 0800 087 337 or click here to send us a message.