What is Tree Lopping?

What is Tree Lopping?

Tree lopping, also known as topping, is the practice of indiscriminately cutting off stems or branches of trees, specifically in between unions. What this means is that the stems will be cut in the middle, as opposed to where it branches off naturally. It removes most of the leaves of the tree. Most people confuse lopping with pruning, but there is a major difference.

Topping vs Pruning

Professional arborists know that topping a fully mature tree without knowledge of their specific use is dangerous. In fact, most would suggest that pruning is a safer alternative to topping mature branches. Pruning is done to manage branches that are no longer useful to trees.

Pruning is also done for safety reasons, as some branches may have already been dead or rotten. On the other hand, the topping is used to reduce the size and height of trees. This is why even healthy branches are cut off. However, this could cause the tree to completely die, as tree lopping makes them more vulnerable to insects and disease.


This does not mean that topping doesn’t have uses. Arborists recognise two specialised applications:

  1. Pollarding – Pollarding is a type of pruning which keeps the plant or tree at a regular, controlled height and width. The arborist will monitor the plant to remove any new growths. Any re-growths are then pruned off. The process takes place once every two to three years, depending on the plant.

This process must be started on trees that have been specifically chosen for the purpose as a young seedling, and may not be applied to fully grown, mature trees.

  1. Hedging – Hedging is one of the most popular forms of topping. It’s done to remove branches that have poor attachments. Trees and plants that have fast regrowth rates are also hedged.

Tree lopping is a practice that is useful in certain circumstances. A thorough knowledge of its methodology, usage and effects are needed for proper technique application. If you’re thinking of getting your trees topped, make sure that you talk to a professional with expertise in the field.

For more information on pruning and trimming, consult Tree Lopping Services from Townsville Tree Care.