How to Properly Trim Living Tree Branches

The first step to properly trim a living tree branch is to try and identify the branch collar. A branch collar is built up stem tissue that can be found at the underside of the base of a tree branch. It is important that when you prune a branch that you do not damage the branch collar.

The correct method to cut a branch is to begin the cut just outside the branch bark ridge. When making the cut, you should position the angle of your cutting tool down and away from the stem of the tree to avoid damaging either the branch bark ridge or the branch collar.

Try to cut the branch as close as possible to the stem, but outside the branch bark ridge, so that stem tissue is not injured and the wound can seal in the shortest time possible. Cuts that are made too far from the stem sometimes form a tree wound that heals more slowly, increasing the chances for tree diseases.

You can assess the quality of your pruning cuts by examining pruning wounds after one growing season. A concentric ring of woundwood forms from proper pruning cuts. Cuts that are too far inside the branch bark ridge or branch collar result in pronounced development of woundwood.

Make sure to use sharp tools tools when you trim smaller branches. When you trim a smaller branch, the tool should be sharp enough to cut the branches cleanly without tearing the bark or interior matter.

When trimming branches that are large enough to require the use of a saw, you should support the with one hand or by tying it off while it is being cut. Some branches may be large enough to require multiple cuts for safety reasons and to ensure that the branch doesn’t break or crack under weight while it is being trimmed.