Urban Forestry Committee

Tree Permits & Information
Tree Permits
If you wish to remove a tree or perform major pruning on a street tree, you will need to apply for a street tree permit before doing any work.
Think Before You Top, Get The Facts
Topping is the drastic removal of large amounts of leaves and branches from a tree's crown. According to the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), "topping is the indiscriminate cutting back of tree branches to stubs or lateral branches that are not large enough to assume the terminal role." Other names for topping include heading, tipping, hat-racking, and rounding over.

  • Hurts trees
  • Is expensive
  • Creates unsafe hazardous conditions
  • Shortens the life of a tree
Think before you top, get the facts
Common Topping Urban Legends & the Real Facts
Topping rejuvenates the tree. Actually, topping removes large amounts of energy-converting foliage from the tree. This forces the tree to tap energy reserves to replace lost foliage, resulting in a weakened tree that is more susceptible to attack by pests and disease.

Topping makes the tree fuller. In fact, many trees will send out or "flush" large amounts of foliage to replace the leaves removed. New growth is dense and may appear to be fuller. Unfortunately, new branches are poorly attached and easily break, and topped branches are open for attack by pests and decay.

Topping is inexpensive. A topped tree requires more maintenance due to increased pruning cycles. Ultimately, the tree will die prematurely, reducing property values, and will need to be removed and replaced.

New growth is stronger
. The new growth after topping usually grows faster, but is not stronger. Instead, new growth is poorly attached and easily breaks off, increasing storm damage and personal liability.

The tree casts too much shade. The canopy of a tree may be thinned with proper pruning to allow more sunlight through, while not severely damaging the tree.

The tree got too big. Trees never get "Too Big." Trees have a genetic disposition to be a certain size while environmental factors affect the potential size. If tree size is a concern, consider selection of smaller trees for a better choice.

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