How To Trim a Tree That Is Too Tall

We are asked a wide variety of tree care questions on a daily basis and we never know from one day to the next what the next topic of conversation is going to be. However, we have noticed over time that many of these questions have the same purpose: finding out how to trim a tree that is too tall. Yes, a large number of the queries that we receive are from individuals or organisations who wish to reduce the height of a tree or stop it from growing any taller than it already is. Having come to this realisation, we decided to cover the topic in our blog today.


The Best Way to Trim a Tree That Is Too Tall

If you are going to try trimming a tree yourself, you should know that there are two main approaches when it comes to reducing or controlling the height of a more mature tree:


  • Topping – This is a procedure that is frowned upon by reputable tree surgeons but its simplicity and apparent effectiveness ensures it is never quite stamped out completely. It involves cutting off the top of a tree, a crude and, from the perspective of the tree, extremely traumatic procedure. Whilst it will certainly reduce the height of any tree on which it is performed, it has a number of serious drawbacks. For a start, trees that are topped are susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases as well as rot. What’s more, the branches they grow in response to this treatment are invariably weak and therefore easy to damage. With all of these disadvantages and more to consider, we hope you can see why topping should never be your choice of procedure when dealing with trees that are too tall, either for their surroundings or their own safety.
  • Pruning of Lateral Branches – Instead of topping a tree that is too tall, we recommend you consider pruning any lateral branches growing at height. The best way to do this, if your primary aim is to discourage future upward growth, is to cut each branch at a 45-degree angle, pointing away from the trunk. By pruning in this manner, you will encourage the tree to favour lateral rather than vertical growth in the future. It should be noted, however, that there is no permanent solution for a tree that really wishes to pursue more vertical growth in the future. The best outcome you can hope for is that vertical growth will slow dramatically and be mitigated, at least from an aesthetic perspective, by more vigorous lateral growth at the same time. As pruning to control height is quite a complex task that requires a certain degree of expertise, it’s not something we recommend unqualified individuals attempt without professional supervision.


In reality, the best way to trim a tree that is too tall is almost always to hire a local professional to perform the necessary work. That way you can avoid any unnecessary drama or delays.

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