Myth #6: Certain fast-growing, weak-wooded trees such as silver maple and Siberian elm should be “topped” to make them less hazardous in the landscape.

While topping these trees may reduce the potential hazard at first, they will likely be more dangerous in the future. Topping stimulates growth of twigs below the cuts. Growth of many, vigorous shoots leads to branches with weak attachments. Also decay spreads inside the stubs and branches that were topped. Within 2 to 5 years after topping, the tree will have regained its height, but will be more hazardous than before the topping. Besides, topping makes trees ugly. Alternatives to topping include thinning, cabling, or removal and replacement with a more suitable species.