How to Prune with a Pole Saw


A pole saw is a saw on an extension pole used to reach limbs beyond your reach when pruning a tree. You can buy pole saws with pole handles in sections of 4 to 8 feet. Pole saws should be used with extreme care. Tree limbs that are removed above your head may fall and hit you if you are not careful. Always use safety equipment, including a hard hat, gloves and goggles when using a pole saw. Prune your tree in late winter or early spring while the tree is dormant. This will help you to avoid infecting the tree with disease.

Step 1

Inspect the pole saw to ensure it is sharp. Sharpen the saw by dragging a sharpening stone down the length of the teeth.

Step 2

Sterilize the saw by wiping the blade with a clean cloth soaked in a solution containing 1 part bleach and 9 parts water. This will help prevent the spread of diseases as you prune.

Step 3

Stand at a 45-degree angle from the limb you plan to remove. This will help you to keep the limb from falling on top of you.

Step 4

Remove each limb using three cuts. The first cut should be 4 inches away from the point where the limb meets the trunk of a tree. Turn the pole over so that the saw is pointing upward and place the teeth against the underside of the limb. Drag the saw back and forth along the base of the limb. The saw will cut through the wood as you pull the teeth to you. Cut one-third of the way through the limb. This will help you to prevent stripping bark from the tree.

Step 5

Make a second cut to remove the limb by turning the saw upright. Place the blade on the top of the limb 1 inch further down the limb from your initial cut. Saw through the limb from top to bottom. The limb will fall when you have sawn through it.

Step 6

Make a final cut to remove the stub. Place the blade of the pole pruning saw against the trunk of the tree so the blade is outside of the growth ring where the tree’s limb meets the bark. Tilt the saw so the teeth of the blade point away from the tree at a 45-degree angle. Saw through the limb at an angle.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharpening stone
  • Bleach
  • Clean cloth


  • NC State University: Woodland Owner Notes
  • Iowa State University: Pruning Forest Trees
  • NC State University: Pruning Trees and Shrubs

Who Can Help

  • Iowa State University: Dr. Grow-It-All Offers the Right Tools for the Job
Keywords: pruning trees, pole pruners, using pole pruner

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."