When should I consider Tree Topping?

When should I consider Tree Topping?

Despite clear evidence, some of the population maintains that tree topping can stimulate the growth of a tree, lessen the cost of pruning, and generally manage the size of a tree. However, topping a tree is more damaging than helpful and far riskier than most are aware of.

What is Tree Topping?

To put simply, topping is a method of severe pruning which removes the entire top out of a healthy tree, removing the oldest and heaviest stabilising branches, leaving behind a wound in more ways than one. Topping a tree removes the heart of the tree’s branches so to speak. This leaves a tree vulnerable to wind damage, weakened by taking away the main growth that supported its weight, stunting the growth of the branches and leaves a gaping wound at risk of infection.

Other terms for this practice of severe pruning are: 

  • Topping
  • Tipping
  • Dehorning
  • Heading
  • Rounding over
  • Stubbing

Tree topping poses a huge risk to a tree in several ways. Trees require a large amount of leaf surface for photosynthesis; tree topping eliminates too much leaf growth on the branches that are removed. This creates a huge hindrance on the tree gaining nutrients for healthy growth.

Wounds caused by tree topping are commonly more than most trees can take. It is true that a healthy tree can usually survive a wound, however, tree topping leaves a large number of stubs that on the whole are too much wound to close and or recover from.

Tree Topping
Tree Topping

This method of pruning puts the tree’s bark at risk for severe damage from the sun. It also creates weak stubs that are vulnerable to heavy wind and storm damage as they become weak and often decay and eventually die. Some mistakenly believe that topping a tree is cheaper than hiring a tree expert to properly maintain their trees. The drawbacks prove otherwise.

When you top your trees they may not recover from it. If they recover, they will more than likely require years of corrective pruning. The trees may be left disfigured and scarred, lowering property value and present an ongoing risk of possible damage caused by weakening and very possibly decaying or dying branches. This method of pruning removes a tree’s heart, removing their natural beauty and leaving behind scarring and disfigurement.


What are the reasons for a topping?

The most common reasons for doing this is when a tree is overgrown and the owner considers it undesirable. Perhaps the tree is casting excess shade on a garden, or branches are overhanging or coming in contact with utility lines.

Tree topping can cause a tree to become a liability. However, proper trimming keeps a tree healthy and strong by eliminating the dead wood and encouraging new growth while allowing as much of the leaf surface to remain allowing for water and nutrients. The tree’s heart is the branches that stabilise it in wind and hefts its weight in the sunshine. Healthy trees are beautiful and create oxygen.  

Does cutting dead branches help a tree?

Does cutting dead branches help a tree?

Cutting off dead branches of a tree helps it in many ways, especially when done by an arborist. You can remove dead branches by yourself, but at first, you need to have a close examination of these branches. After doing it for a period of time, it will become easier to point out the branches that need to be pruned.

During spring and summer, one of the easiest ways to identify branches that are dead is by looking at the leaves. If the branch is bare while other branches still have leaves, it is a clear indication that the branch is dead.

Are the branches bare and some have clinging dead leaves? If the tree is deciduous and has shed off the leaves, there should be none clinging. Therefore, if one or some of the branches have clinging leaves, it is an indication that the branches are dead and need to be pruned.

However, you should be very cautious with some tree species that tend to hold on to their leaves even when they should’ve dropped them. Some of these species include the oaks, beeches and other sapling trees.

tree surgeon branches

The bark has fallen off: 
It is normal for tree bark to fall off over time but for a healthy wood, the bark is replaced with new layers to avoid exposing the smooth wood underneath. Hence, it is a warning sign if most of the bark has fallen off. Remember, it is the bark (phloem) of the tree that transport food from the leaves to the roots. Therefore, if most of the bark has fallen off, there are higher chances that the tree can eventually die.

Large fungus:

Wood conchs and shelf fungus are signs that a section of the wood is affected by infectious microorganisms. If the tree is not treated or the affected branch is not pruned, the entire tree might dry off from the infection.


Pruning Your Tree

Pruning is an essential practice to maintain your trees in perfect condition. You are required to prune your trees often to remove dead branches as well as other branches that are growing in an unwanted direction. This will ensure that the tree grows in the right direction and it has the right shape because it is properly trimmed. 

Pruning is also done for safety purposes. First, the dead branches should be pruned so that they cannot rot and fall on their own, causing potential damage and injury.

You can prune the trees yourself, but if you don’t have the necessary equipment and skills, you should consider hiring a tree removal company. You will not only benefit from professional services but also evade the risk of climbing tall trees with limited or no knowledge of how to prune a tree. 

Finally, the method of pruning a tree, how often it should be pruned and what should be done to keep the tree in an ideal condition should only be determined by an experienced arborist. Therefore, consider seeking help from these professionals instead of doing it yourself.

When should I consider Tree Topping?

What is a BS5837 Tree Survey?

BS5837 tree survey recommends the necessary steps to retain trees appropriately when development takes place. This means that there are certain trees on site or near the site where development is planned to take place, and the Local Planning Authority should consider them when making decisions about planning applications. 

A BS5837 tree survey should be carried out by anyone considering altering property a piece of land that contains or is close to trees.

Tree surveys are aimed at not only preserving local wildlife but also protecting new developments by ensuring that adjacent trees won’t affect these buildings once they are built. Trees can affect the structural integrity of a property, and this can also affect the market price of the building. Hence, before constructing or renovating a building, it is advisable to have a tree survey conducted by a qualified professional.

Tree Surgeon John Fryer

BS5837 Tree Survey Glossary

A tree survey usually involves a three-stage process to determine what needs to be done. In most cases, the area that needs survey is determined by the influencing distance of the tree which is about 15 meters. Here are the three stages:


1) Tree survey plan 

A drawn plan that shows the specific location of each tree in a specified area. This is important because it is drawn exactly to scale to help plan the tree survey with ease.


2) Schedule

There is a total of 12 point schedule for every tree in the specified area. The first step involves giving each tree a unique reference number. After giving each tree a reference number, here are the other schedule points that are followed:

  • Noting the scientific and/or common name of each tree species
  • Recording any Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or Conservation Area Protection if there is any
  • Record the height of each tree in metres
  • Measuring the stem diameter of each tree in cm. The measurement should be taken 1.5m from the ground
  • Record branch spread to North, South, East and West
  • Preliminary management recommendations
  • Age class, i.e. young, semi-mature, mature, over-mature and veteran
  • Physiological and structural condition while documenting health and any defects the tree might have
  • Remaining ‘useful life’ of the tree
  • Tree Quality Assessment – the assessment uses all the data recorded above to determine whether the tree will be retained or removed


3) Tree constraints plan

This plan must show these five things for each tree in the area:

  • Tree Quality Assessment
  • Root Protection Area
  • Future Growth Potential, i.e. crown spread and height
  • Accurate position and crown spread
  • Shade footprint throughout the day


Professional Tree Surveys

If you would like a tree survey, we can help you because our arborists are qualified to offer ecological and arboricultural consultancy services. If you are worried that the development site has possible constraints, we can offer a site survey and a report assessing all the development constraints. 

To get the required assessment, we will use the Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey and Tree Survey to get all the information we need. After we have gathered all the information we need, we will provide you with a Tree Constraint Report identifying individual trees or groups of trees near the site that are hindering construction. The data we provide is easy to read and understand to help homeowners and property managers to make informed decisions. 

What is a Tree Survey?

What is a Tree Survey?

A tree survey can be conducted on both private and public landscapes with the aim of helping homeowners and property managers make informed decisions. The main objective of a tree survey is to provide useful information about a particular tree or a group of trees. Depending on the information obtained, the owners can then decide what to do.

After the survey is conducted, some of the information that will be revealed will include the following:

  • The age of the tree
  • Tree’s life expectancy
  • Species of the tree based on the scientific names of the tree
  • Physical measurements of the tree including the height and the diameter
  • Management recommendations
  • The overall health of the tree

Although it is not a must to conduct a tree survey, there are many reasons why people conduct a tree survey on their property or homes. For instance, when you are planning to build on some land that has trees or where the building will be adjacent to the trees, you need a tree survey to ascertain the safety of the building and its occupants. On the other hand, a tree survey can be conducted to prevent a protected tree from being cut down. This is done based on the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

The tree survey information collected can be used in a number of ways. For instance, the landscape designer can use the information to come up with computer designs on how the land should be developed. The drafts from a reliable tree survey tend to be more accurate because a lot of factors are put into consideration.

Depending on the information collected, a landscape designer might decide to keep some of the trees to increase the value of the property. However, the trees that cannot be removed by law can be incorporated into the design to be a part of the entire project. This is important because the trees become a part of the overall landscape instead of standing alone or being neglected.

A tree survey can also point out certain hazards depending on the overall health of the trees. For instance, a tree that has been affected by fungi is prone to falling in case there are strong winds; so instead of having such trees in your landscape, it is advisable you remove them to prevent possible accidents.

Finally, tree surveys should be conducted by qualified and experienced arborist only. The professional will explain everything you are supposed to know in a way you will understand. When carrying out the survey, they tag the trees with special tags and numbers for further use and reference. If you would like to know about the survey of a certain tree, you can use these tags and a summary table as prepared by the arborist.


tree health


How much does a tree survey cost?

The cost of a tree survey differs greatly from one person to another because there are factors that determine the overall cost. The arborist will have to visit your property, examine a tree and produce a report of the survey. The distance and location of your property, the number of trees to be surveyed, their species and tools needed are some of the factors that can determine the cost.

To have an accurate estimate, you will have to speak to an experienced arborist. However, ensure that they have all relavant qualifications, experience and a valid insurance cover before hiring or consider hiring them for tree survey services.