How to top off a tree

What's the Best Way to Deal with a Tree That's Too Big

If it has just dawned on you that the trees in your property are getting taller beyond what’s acceptable to you and/or the neighborhood, and you need to do something about them before they outgrow the space allocated to them, the primary question would be: How will you be able to safely cut down a tree to an acceptable size?

Tree Trimming & Pruning

When tree owners want to reduce the size of their trees and keep them in perfect shape, they usually resort to tree trimming (also known as pruning). Trimming a tree has plenty of benefits. Visually speaking, it can hold in check excessive growth that can ruin the shape of the tree and—if it’s large enough—potentially wreak havoc on their neighbors’ property. Pruning can also have the added benefit of reducing leaf diseases by increasing airflow through a tree's canopy.

Methods of Pruning

There are a lot of pruning types but the most common of them applied to tall trees are either tree topping or crown reduction. But which of these two methods deliver the best result? Which of these two will not harm your tree and disfigure it? Which of them are highly recommended by professional arborists?

Find out everything that you need to know about these two methods:

What Is Tree Topping?

Also known as hat-racking, rounding over, heading, or tipping, tree topping techniques involve removing the large branches from the treetop and leaving only lateral branches and stumps on the tree.

Is Topping Trees Good or Bad?

Unfortunately, tree topping is not really an advisable option for controlling the tree size. As a matter of fact, professional arborists agree that topping should never be utilized as a primary pruning method. It should only be used if you are planning to remove an unwanted tree.

Effects of Tree Topping

Since the tree is left with lateral branches and stubs that are still too small to take the role of producing and delivering food throughout the entire tree, topping provides numerous problems to the tree. Besides reducing the tree's energy-producing capacity, it also triggers regrowth of unattractive and vertical branches, which will also disfigure the tree permanently with ugly water sprouts and branches.

The branch wounds sustained by the tree are slow to heal, making the tree susceptible to fungal decay and insect attack. And since topping leaves the tree exposed without its branches and foliage, it can also cause severe bark damage.

Benefits Of Topping Trees?

Topping trees comes in handy in situations in which a tree has undergone severe damage from a natural disaster. Often times in such scenarios, tree topping may be your only alternative for repairing the tree. In other cases, however, it is important to note that the costs that come with tree topping exceed the benefits. Tree topping can shock a tree, leaving it unable to nourish itself. This can lead to disease and even abrupt tree death. Tree topping can also create risky situations for its surroundings, so it is in your best interest to avoid tree topping when possible.

What Is Crown Reduction?

Crown reduction is one of the most common methods that arborists use to control the size of the tree and keep its shape perfectly. It's also more ideal to use compared to tree topping. This method involves reducing the foliage of the tree while still preserving the general structure of the crown; doing this successfully trims the overall shape of the tree and controls its size. In a general sense, limbs that are located on the uppermost portion of the tree canopy are cut shorter in order to decrease the tree's height. However, they are only removed to the next lateral growth to be able to ensure that they heal faster and grow again properly.

It is highly suggested that only 20% or lesser of the tree's canopy should be cut at once in order to avoid the tree from suffering.

Effects of Crown Reduction

Unlike tree topping, the effects of crown reduction on trees are not harmful. Since the trees were properly trimmed and dying limbs or branches suffering from pest or disease are eliminated, their health is greatly improved. Additionally, crown reduction provides satisfying results where aesthetics are concerned.

Moreover, trimming your trees properly can also increase the production of fruit-bearing trees and ensure better quality fruits. Crown reduction also helps improve sun exposure and air circulation on trees.

Between crown reduction and tree topping, the former is undoubtedly the best choice that you should follow when dealing with big trees. Crown reduction does not just keep the tree's size balance; it also preserves the plant’s natural shape while also ensuring good tree health. Tree topping, on the other hand, is a harmful procedure. It may give you the result that you want but only for a short time; not to mention that it will even bring you more trouble in the future.

Hire a Professional For Your Tree Services

Tree topping, crown reduction? Which is better? You finally know the answer. If you really want to make sure that your trees are properly pruned, asking the help of a professional arborist is highly recommended. They will absolutely guarantee that your tree’s health and shape are not compromised.

Call (775) 352-4241 to get in touch with our professionals at American Arborists. You can count on us to take care of all your tree services.

How to Top a Tree Without Damaging It

Have an overgrown tree outside of your home? If you’re one of the many homeowners who have issues with their trees getting too top heavy recently, then you might want to consider cutting off the tops, also known as “topping.”

Although there are controversies over doing so due to safety hazards for those involved in the tree cutting and the possibility of tree decay if not carefully done, it’s still the preferred option for clearing tree tops.

Especially when they can pose problems for houses, telephone wires, and other nearby items should the tree end up breaking off due to weather conditions (e.g. wind, rain, thunder), having clean-topped trees is the way to go.

In this article, we offer you a few ways on how to top a tree without damaging it, as well as yourself and others around you. With our step-by-step tutorial, we will help you become knowledgeable and prepared for your next tree-topping session! Let’s get started.


  • What You’ll Need for This Step-By-Step Tutorial
    • A Ladder
    • A Tree Saw
    • Tree Pruners
    • A Helmet
  • Step-By-Step Instructions on How to Top a Tree
    • Be Experienced
    • Know Which Branches to Cut Off
    • Check Where It Leans
    • Give Yourself Enough Space
    • Start with Smaller Branches
    • Use the Three-Way Cut on the Collar of the Branch
    • Clean Up
  • Take Away Message

What You’ll Need for This Step-By-Step Tutorial

A Ladder

While a rope-and-harness method might sound like a good alternative, a ladder might be better to use instead, just because you can distance yourself from having to be directly on the tree while topping it, for safety reasons. Get a ladder that is not only high enough to reach the top branches, but also sturdy enough to remain stable on the ground.

For a solid tree ladder, we recommend getting Guide Gear’s 20’ Climbing Stick, which you can find here.

A Tree Saw

Make sure you invest in a saw that’s specially designed for cutting trees: other types of saws will most likely not work, as they tend to be more suited for thinner items and might be dangerous if used on a thicker object. With that said, purchase one that not only can slice through just about any thickness, but also is durable for long periods of usage.

If you prefer to stay on the ground, instead of climbing up to top the tree, you can consider getting a telescoping saw or a pole saw to reach those elevated heights without the need to make that extra effort to climb and then do the work up there.

Tree Pruners

Perhaps if there are some small, thin branches at the top of the tree, you can just use pruners to carefully trim them off, rather than using the large tree saw for everything.

A Helmet

Regardless of whether you’re at the top of the tree or firmly rooted on the ground, wearing a helmet is essential to your safety. Should tree branches fall and you’re in the way, being protected will minimize the damage done.

Here is a good, sturdy helmet that we recommend for your safety:

Shop now at Amazon

Step-By-Step Instructions on How to Top a Tree

Be Experienced

If this will be your first time topping a tree, then it’s advised not to do so, since it can be very dangerous not only to you, but also to the tree if not done properly.

To be experienced in cutting down tree tops is to know their structure, how to safely remove the branches without taking off too little or too much, and also how to keep yourself and others around you away from harm.

Instead, consider shelling out the money and hiring a professional tree-topper to get rid of those overgrown branches at the top. While you might be reluctant to pay for these kinds of services, know that it’s for your safety, as well as everyone else’s, and perhaps you can learn a thing or two from the expert, so that you can top the tree on your own next time!

Watch video: Cutting a tree from the top down

Know Which Branches to Cut Off

On the other hand, if you have plenty of experience topping trees, then you can go about figuring out which branches need to be sliced. Branches that are about to die or are already dead definitely need to be cut, as well as those that are decaying, in order to prevent the decay from spreading to the rest of the tree.

Also trim off branches that interfere with power lines, satellite signals, and even other plants that receive little to no sunlight. By doing so, you can help prevent safety hazards from happening while also keeping the tree in good shape.

Check Where It Leans

Whether it’s the way the wind is blowing or how it naturally bends, taking note of which direction the tree leans will help you gauge where you should be positioned to cut the branches off; in other words, if the tree bends to the left, then you go on the right.

Give Yourself Enough Space

Not only do you give yourself enough room to cut the tree tops down, but also for a drop zone (also called “lay”) down on the ground. Measure out the area around the tree, estimating the range that tree branches can drop down safely and clearing out the path for it. This will help make sure that you and the surroundings will be safe from fallen tree branches.

Watch video: How to Top a Tree That's Too Tall to Drop

Start with Smaller Branches

Slowly ease yourself into the tree topping by starting off cutting off the smaller branches before working your way to the bigger ones. By doing so, you can clear the way for slicing off the larger branches and also for reducing their size if the smaller branches are part of the bigger ones.

Use the Three-Way Cut on the Collar of the Branch

This is a special cutting technique to cut off tree branches effectively:

  • Locate the collar of the branch (the crook, or intersection, of where two offshoots meet).
  • Slice a notch into the bottom off the branch, around two feet away from the tree trunk. Cut only about one-fourth inch into the trunk. Do the same from the top of the branch, careful not to directly cut through the collar.
  • Slice the branch completely off just outside of the collar, and continue to the other branches on the tree.

Trim as many tree branches as you can, but also be careful not to cut off too many of them, since too many bare spots can lead to problems with too much sunlight and other issues for the plant.

Watch video: Demonstration of the three-way cut

Clean Up

While probably the most tedious work after topping the tree, it’s still important to clear away the debris in order to prevent accidents from happening on the ground.

You can either throw away the branches into the recycle bin for trash day pickup, or use them as kindle for the fireplace at home. Whichever option you decide on, know that you’re helping the environment!

Take Away Message

While it’s considered dangerous and even harmful to the environment if not done properly, tree topping is still a useful method to clear an overgrown tree top not only for the plant’s health, but also for the safety of the people and objects around it. Doing it in a safe, professional manner will keep the environment protected and beneficial in the way.

Topping a tree might seem daunting at first, especially if you don’t have any experience in it or have the necessary equipment to do so. However, by doing some research and getting some secondhand experience from professionals beforehand, you will be ready to top your first tree!

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How beautiful to decorate and light the trees?

The fashion to decorate trees with light garlands takes its roots from the New Year holidays and although it appeared relatively recently, it quickly took root and is widely used by the owners of restaurants, corporate buildings, private country houses, not only as a New Year's Eve, but also as a decorative design of the adjacent territory in the dark. Glow in the dark tree looks very impressive and eye-catching.


If you have one or more trees at your disposal, then let's figure out how to decorate them. From my rather subjective point of view, those who are going to decorate a non-coniferous tree are more fortunate. Spruce has its conical shape and far from always the branches are arranged in such a way that our fantasy can be completely satisfied, because just a garland thrown over the branches is a rather outdated option that is used when it is impossible to use other additional lighting decorations and is unlikely to attract much attention from others . Although in this a lot depends on the technique of applying the garland. It's one thing - randomly thrown lights, and quite another - a beautiful, luminous silhouette of a tree.


You can decorate a living tree with:

  • light ball figures;
  • LED melting icicles;
  • fringe garlands;
  • wide angle spotlights;
  • duralight.


  • Many trees are additionally illuminated with icicles to create dynamics.


  • An important point in the lighting design of trees is to determine the amount of material required and calculate it correctly. For decoration, the most convenient and popular material is most often used - LED Clip Light Spider, which can be a constant glow, flickering, or with the ability to set a certain number of dynamic light effects (a controller is required). It consists of 3 or 5 threads-garlands connected together (the length of the threads is usually 20 meters).


The recommended amount of garland clip light per tree depends on the height of the trunk.

up to 3m: 20-60m.
from 3 to 5m: 50-100m.
from 5 to 8m: 100-300m.
from 8 to 12m: 200-300m.
from 10 to 20m: 300-500m.


  • Recently, a lot of both flat and three-dimensional LED figures began to appear on the domestic market. Most of them are made in street performance, i.e. have a sufficient class of protection against dust and moisture to absolutely painlessly work outdoors for several years in a row. Such 3D figures, or panels, are light enough to withstand the branches of a tree, bright, juicy, sometimes even fluffy. In the form of stars, balls, snowflakes, comets ... All this glows in different colors and shimmers with lights, not allowing you to take your eyes off you. In my opinion - a great addition to the garlands described above.

We have more or less decided on the garlands, but, as they say, "Not by bread alone ..". Therefore, let's turn our gaze towards additional elements that can decorate our already very attractive tree.


  • Tree decoration with 1 LED wide angle spotlights.

Well, as a final touch - compact LED spotlights. They are installed at a short distance from the barrel and are directed upwards to enhance the brightness of the backlight. Such spotlights, like all LED technology, can be of various shades of glow.

In general, I would like to say that in our time there would be a tree and a desire to decorate it, but with what and how to decorate - it all depends entirely on your taste and imagination, because the market for decorative lighting products allows us to create almost anything, And every day the choice becomes wider.


  • Mixed decoration of trees with LED duralight and garlands.

Garlands for trees Clip light, views, how to decorate and connect.

On the eve of the New Year holidays, all cities, streets and shops are prepared especially carefully: everything begins to shine and shimmer with colorful lights, attracting the eye and reminding of the approach of the most important celebration.

By December, all buildings are transformed inside and out, avenues and streets shimmer with millions of lights. And the trees with the onset of the dark time of the day look like in a fairy tale. With the development of LED technology in our time, tree decoration has become very popular, it is no longer so expensive and very effective.

In this article we will understand what clip light is, what it is and how to choose the right one.

Clip-light is a LED street garland that operates from a step-down transformer (it converts 220V to 24V current, there will be no electric shock if the product is damaged) with an increased level of dust and moisture protection (IP not lower than 44), which makes it absolutely safe for people. It can be used in all weather conditions, the operating range is from -40 to +60 degrees. During operation, the diodes do not heat up and do not harm the tree.

  • Clip-light garland is very similar to the usual, comes in standard sets for 30, 60 and 100 meters. All of them go in segments of 10 m or 20 m, connected in series to each other. Comes with step down transformer. Operates in constant light mode.
  • Clip-light Spider are ready-made decoration kits. In their kit, in addition to the transformer, there is a splitter for 3 or 5 beams.

Available with modes:

  • Flickering.
  • Permanent glow (fixing).
  • With a controller (chasing) that provides light dynamics modes.

You can also purchase additional splitters in the Cliplight accessories section.

Garlands are available on PVC wire (it is recommended to decorate during the warm period, because it hardens with the onset of cold weather and can break during decoration), rubber or silicone (more suitable for installation in the cold season, they will not harden at low temperatures below 20 degrees).

Connecting the garland

The garland can be connected in series one after the other if you plan to simply hang it on the branches in the old fashioned way (this method is also suitable for decorating a high-rise Christmas tree). It is convenient to dress up a tree with a long garland - just wind it around the trunk or randomly distribute it among the branches.

If you are planning to decorate a branching tree, then you need a clip-light spider, which comes with a 3- or 5-beam splitter. With the help of separate processes, you can draw each branch. The splitter can be placed in any part of the clipboard - both immediately after the transformer and between the strands of the garlands.

The wrapping decoration process does not require any technical devices, it is quite laborious, but it is thanks to it that the maximum effect in decoration can be achieved. If you want to find yourself in a fairy tale, you will have to work hard and carefully wind the wire around the branches, the more often, the brighter your magic tree will glow!

For an example of calculating the required length, you can use the table:

At the end of the season, we advise you to remove the winding from the tree - it grows and tightly wound wires can harm it.

Learn more