Losing your view? Why topping doesn’t work


I have recently bought a property that has water views but there is a fairly large tree right in the middle of our outlook. Is it possible to cut the top of the tree off by about 2 – 3 meters ? We don’t want the whole tree gone as the lower section gives us privacy from the street.

This form of pruning is called topping or lopping. Not only is it a form of pruning which is banned from all council regulations but it is common knowledge in the industry that it is harmful to the tree. To put it simply, when a tree is topped, the loss of such a large leaf area needs to be replaced by the tree to survive. If the tree does not have enough stored energy reserves, it may be seriously weakened or die.

This regrowth is also weakly attached and can become quite dangerous if left. It also causes decay. On the limbs and trunk that were once sheltered from direct sunlight, they are now exposed to the sun and may suffer from sunburn, which can then lead to cankers (a type of fungi), splitting bark and death of limbs.

Topping your tree will also cost you more in the long term as the new regrowth after topping grows very quickly. So within a short period of time the tree will be obstructing your view once again. In some species it will be more dense than before. This means to keep your view, the tree would have to be topped every year, jeopardising the tree’s health making it more hazardous in the long term which then results in escalating costs in trying to rectify this problem.

We have had many clients over the years who have asked us to top their trees for views and in every case we have recommended thinning of the tree canopy as an alternative. Clients have always been extremely happy with the end result . With this technique you have your views and retain a healthy and safe tree.

— Chris