How to Prune Sycamores


The sycamore (plantanus occidentalis) tree is native to North America. It grows very large, reaching heights of 75 to 100 feet. Even in cases on strong wind, sycamores tend to be strong and unwavering. Their bark, however, tends to flake off, leaving a molted surface. The tree usually divides close to the ground into a few trunks and has an uneven, irregular-shaped canopy. Pruning sycamores makes them healthier and improves their shape.

Step 1

Prune sycamore trees in the dormant growing season, which is the winter. This is when the chance of disease is the lowest.

Step 2

Climb a ladder and look for broken, diseased and weak limbs within the tree canopy. Many of them will be attached to another limb or the trunk with a connection in the shape of a V, as opposed to a U-shaped joint.

Step 3

Find the collar, which is the swollen part at the base of the branch, where it meets the trunk. There is callus tissue here that will cover the cut you make and protect the tree from disease.

Step 4

Cut the affected branch with a chain saw or pruning saw from the bottom, about 1/3 of the way through the branch's diameter. Place the cut just beyond the collar.

Step 5

Make a second cut from the top side of the branch, meeting the other cut. The branch should fall away, leaving behind a tiny stub, not more than a half-inch from the collar.

Step 6

Prune branches that cross or grow vertically up the side of the center trunk. These are preventing sunlight and air circulation to the sycamore.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't butcher sycamores by severely pruning them or topping them because they are too big for their allotted space. Don't attempt pruning that should be left for a professional. Avoid pruning sycamore branches that grow close to power lines. Call the utility company instead.

Things You'll Need

  • Ladder
  • Gloves
  • Chain saw or pruning saw


Keywords: sycamores, pruning sycamore, prune branches

About this Author

Kelly Shetsky has been a broadcast journalist for more than ten years, researching, writing, producing and reporting daily on many topics. In addition, she writes for several websites, specializing in medical, health and fitness, arts and entertainment, travel and business-related topics. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Marist College.