Horticultural Myths – Tree Topping


Trees (especially Fruitless Mulberry trees) benefit from a yearly pruning. This helps bring an abundance of fresh new growth and it is what is best for the tree. This is how other trees are cared for by landscaping companies and in commercial settings, so I should do this to my trees to maintain health. This also helps to lower the risk of my tree being too close to the house, keep large branches from breaking in storms or wind, and makes the roots have less branches to feed.


Topping your trees has only negative effects on the health of your tree. Some of these negative effects are:

  • Higher susceptibility to pests, diseases, and fungus
  • Branches become weaker and more prone to break under wind or storms
  • Sun damage to the bark on the interior of the tree
  • Decay from cut sites that are being cut over and over again
  • Shortened overall lifespan

The practice of topping is also commonly called hat-racking, heading, rounding over, and tipping. The practice of topping has been known to be a harmful practice for over 30 years by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) but hasn’t trickled down to your everyday landscaper very well. However, if a homeowner is told “You need to cut this tree back every year” by their landscaper or the local tree trimming business, then they follow their suggestions. To avoid this situation you can refer to this blog post about how to locate a local arborist that is ISA certified.

For more information about the practice of topping you can refer to the following links: