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an arborist cutting large tree limbs in Edmonton

In this week’s blog we tackle the topic of tree topping in Edmonton.

Topping, also called heading, stubbing or dehorning, is the practice of treating a tree like a hedge by removing an excessive number of branches and cutting the main limbs down to stubs. Homeowners often have a tree topped when they believe it’s at risk of falling because of its height, which is an unfounded worry as long as the tree’s roots are healthy. In fact, topping usually does more harm than good. Here’s why.

  1. Lack of nutrients. Trees get energy from photosynthesis, which requires leaves. A topped tree has fewer leaves, rendering it unable to produce as much food as it normally would. This will weaken it and therefore turn it into a potential hazard.

  2. Shock. The sudden removal of a large number of branches can result in a scalded and burnt trunk. This can cause the tree to die.

  3. Infection and infestation. Topping results in large wounds that take a long time to heal. Since the removal of so many leaves means the tree has less energy to heal, this makes it highly vulnerable to disease and insect infestations.

  4. Weaker limbs. Limb growth following topping results in weak branches that are often attached to the tree by less than an inch of wood. These are hazardous.

  5. Rapid growth. Instead of slowing growth, topping actually accelerates it. This is because some trees react to the injury by sprouting many small limbs and become even bushier as a result.

  6. Death. Some trees don’t sprout as much as others and never recover from a topping. The lack of leaves prevents them from turning sunlight into glucose, leading to a likely death.

  7. Looks. To put it simply, a topped tree is ugly. Since there’s rarely a good reason to do it, you’re just ruining your landscaping.

  8. Costs. Topping weakens trees, which means they become dangerous. While the up-front cost may be less than getting an arborist to carefully assess and prune the tree, you’ll end up having to deal with reduced property values, potential liabilities due to weakened branches and an increased need for careful pruning in the future.


The best thing to do to ensure your trees stay healthy and safe is to hire an arborist. In Edmonton, you can trust the experts at All Season Tree Service to provide professional advice. If you’re worried about the health of a tree or you need someone to assess maintenance needs or damage, contact us today to set up a free consultation.


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