How to Cut a Tree Limb


As you care for trees in a landscape, you must perform some degree of pruning to keep your trees healthy and attractive. When you must cut a tree limb, follow a specific process to prevent injuring or damaging the tree. Because trees react to pruning wounds by exuding sap, a proper cut will minimize stress on the tree and help it recover from the wound. Cut a tree limb carefully and your tree will heal and continue to thrive.

Step 1

Cut the first pruning cut on the branch from the bottom of the branch. Use the saw pruner to cut into the branch from the bottom, approximately halfway through the branch. Make this cut along the branch, between 1 and 2 feet from the trunk of the tree.

Step 2

Create the second pruning cut on the branch from the top of the branch. Use the saw pruner to cut into the branch from the top this time, again cutting approximately halfway through the branch. Make this cut approximately 3 inches further away from the trunk of the tree than the first cut.

Step 3

Stand back and be ready for the branch to break as soon as you complete the second cut. The branch will break between the first and second cuts. Keep people away in anticipation of the branch falling.

Step 4

Cut the final pruning cut after the majority of the branch falls. Make this cut on the outside of the branch collar (between 3 and 5 inches away from the trunk--you can determine the width of the branch collar by the natural swell of the branch where it connects with the trunk of the tree). Make the angle of the cut upward to minimize water collecting inside the open wound. The tree will heal faster with a slanted cut.

Tips and Warnings

  • If the branch is very and could cause damage as it falls (after the second cut), tie a strong rope around the branch, loop the rope around a higher branch and control the speed with which the branch falls to the ground by having an assistant hold the rope while standing on the ground.

Things You'll Need

  • Saw pruner (on pole)


  • North Carolina State University: Pruning Trees
Keywords: care for trees, cut a tree, tree limb, tree pruning

About this Author

Kathryn Hatter is a 42-year-old veteran homeschool educator and regular contributor to Natural News. She is an accomplished gardener, seamstress, quilter, painter, cook, decorator, digital graphics creator and she enjoys technical and computer gadgets. She began writing for Internet publications in 2007. She is interested in natural health and hopes to continue her formal education in the health field (nursing) when family commitments will allow.