How to Prune a Tree
A tree can need pruning for a number of reasons, including damage, disease, thinning a crown for new growth, to reduce the tree height, to reduce lower branches that are obstructing, or to change the shape of the tree.
Once you decide to prune, you’ll need to decide if you want to take on the task yourself or hire a professional. With large trees where you want to remove larger branches that in the upper crown it is always better to hire professionals as this can require the use of specialized saws, tools and equipment as well as climbing.
How to Prune Your Tree
- The most important thing is to protect the stem or tree trunk. Tree branches grow from the stems at the node and when you prune it should always occur on the branch side of the stem node.
- Make a small cut (wedge shaped) on the underside of the branch. This will break the bark and stop a tear from running along the tree bark.
- Farther down the branch, start at the top of the branch, then cut through the branch leaving the stub end.
- Finally, you will make a third cut that is parallel to and on the branch side of the stem collar. This reduces the stub length as much as possible.
- A similar process is used when you prune more than one of two branches that are joined in a ‘u or v’ crotch called a drop crotch cut. Make your first cut on the underside of the branch that you are pruning quite a ways from the crotch. The second cut will cut completely through the branch from inside the crotch quite a ways up from the bark that joins the two branches. Finally, you will shorten the remaining stub then make a third cut on one side of the branch bark ridge and parallel to it.