Annual pruning removes dead, diseased, or broken limbs. Pruning of fruit trees encourages growth and fruit development. Trimming of conifers encourages growth as well, but not always the kind you would prefer.
Topping is the cutting back of tree branches to stubs. Quite often topping and trimming results in fir trees, that form a “U” at the point of the first topping and legs of the “U” continue growing giving an abnormal appearance and weakening the structure of trees that can grow well over one hundred feet tall. The legs or lateral branches are not large enough to assume the terminal or main trunk role. Other names for topping include “heading,” and “hat-racking.”