What is Tree Lopping?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 February 2020
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Tree lopping is the process of trimming various sections of a tree. The lopping may involve clearing away branches or limbs, or even shortening trunks. There are two different schools of thought in regard to the practice of lopping, with some people feeling the process is beneficial and others believing the practice should be avoided if at all possible.

One form of tree lopping takes place as part of the landscaping process. In this setting, the tree lopper has the goal of reshaping existing trees so they will blend in with the general landscape design. This may involve trimming branches and limbs in order to modify the shape of the tree. If the idea is to limit the height of the tree, the lopping may involve removing all the branches and limbs, as well as part of the trunk. When new branches begin to form, they are trained to grow in the directions desired, often with the use of guide wires.

This radical approach is sometimes used when lightning or some other disaster has damaged a tree. Here, the idea is to remove the damaged section that is no longer living, and allow the remainder of the tree to thrive. In some cases, the tree will begin to grow new branches and foliage, eventually regaining its former stature and strength.


At times, tree lopping is utilized as a means of enhancing the property in some manner that is not directly connected with landscaping. For example, a tree may be removed because it obscures a pleasant view from the interior of the home. The tree may be too close to the home, allowing leaves to accumulate on the roof. It may be deemed necessary to remove a tree after installing a swimming pool. Some homeowners will opt for tree lopping as a means of minimizing the chances of a tree falling on the home during severe weather.

While many people see value in tree lopping, others are not so sure. When trees are lopped at certain times of the year, there is an increased possibility that the entire tree will die from the trauma. In addition, there is the chance that the sections where the cuts are sustained will fail to callus over, leaving the tree more susceptible to decay, as well as to various bacteria and fungi that can eventually cause the remaining parts of the tree to rot.

With some types of trees, the new growth that spouts from the area of the cut may or may not be as sturdy as the remainder of the tree. This creates a situation where the tree will never recover its former beauty. In addition, the new growth can sometimes take place very fast, making it necessary to repeat the tree lopping each new season. This is particularly true when sculpting trees as part of a general landscape scheme.


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Post 2

Trees need to be cut back from time to time. We have several large trees that periodically extend over the house. This is not a good situation for several reasons. One of them being that the branches over the house could break and fall and damage the house. The branches over the house also mean more leaves on the roof, in the gutters and in the chimney.

Before lopping a tree you need to find out when the best time to do this is. As a rule, you want to wait until after a flowering tree has bloomed. Again, all trees are a little different, so never assume you know the best time for trimming.

Lopping trees can actually be beneficial to the health of a tree when dead branches are removed. This prevents rotting and diseased sections of a tree from spreading to healthy growth.

Post 1

Ideally, you want to plan your landscaping and the planting of trees and bushes so that as little lopping of trees as possible will be needed. By planting trees and bushes in locations where they can grow to their full potential without disturbing other plants, views, electrical wires and houses you can eliminate the need for lopping.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of the over-manicured lawn and garden. I think "perfectly" lopped, symmetrical trees are unnatural and not as aesthetically leasing as ones that are allowed to grow undisturbed. Lopping can also be damaging to trees.

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