In the tree removal industry there is a great misconception that tree lopping and tree removal are synonyms of each other. This is simply untrue. Their difference in meaning might surprise you.

Tree lopping, lopping, or hat-racking are terms that describe the process of removing the entire top half of a tree, or the removal of the main stem of the tree. Tree lopping was a common practice in the tree industry prior to 1983 due to a lack of standards, training, and certification. The process involves cross-cutting the main stem(s) or leaders and leaving behind the rest of the tree. The problem with tree lopping is that it will leave large malformed stubs where the cross-cutting occurred and leaves the tree vulnerable to a whole spectrum of problems. Lopped trees are susceptible to pest penetration, pathogen intrusion, internal decay, and persistent but weakly jointed re-growth.

On the other hand, tree removal is the process of removing an entire tree. Tree felling is the only correct synonym for tree removal. The process of tree removal varies based on the size of the tree, the amount of space required the ‘drop’ the tree, nearby power lines, and of course the arborist’s preference. The easiest way to remove a tree is to cut it at the base, and then cut it into pieces after is has fallen to the ground. However, in residential and commercial areas a piece by piece approach if often adopted to reduce damage risks to buildings and infrastructure.

These two terms clearly describe completely different tree work, so why do people tend to use them interchangeably? The obvious reasons is that it is from a lack of understanding on this topic and that the term tree lopping has been ingrained into people’s vocabularies through tradition. But it could also come from people being unable to find the right words to describe the tree work they are after. The right terms to describe removing part of a tree selectively would be tree pruning, tree trimming, or tree surgery. The term for the person who carries out the tree work (assuming they are qualified) is an arborist, but they are known colloquially as a “tree doctor” or “tree surgeon”.

So next time you are thinking of having a tree removed or pruned, you should make sure you don’t accidently ask for it to be lopped. You might end up with a disfigured tree that dies due to disease, pests or decay. You should always contact a qualified arborist like Sydney Tree Removals to carry out the work in a safe and professional manner.