How to Trim or Prune Tree Branches Yourself

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How to Trim or Prune Tree Branches Yourself

Ultra Tree Services visits many customers throughout the year, and we come across many misconceptions and misunderstandings on how to trim or prune tree branches yourself. We also see the devastation caused to trees when they are not maintained properly. Inadequate or incorrect cuts can leave your trees vulnerable and susceptible to a myriad of different aggressors like insects and bacteria. Don’t get us wrong, we are more than happy to come to you to remove your dead or dying tree, but we would prefer your trees survive.

Trimming and Pruning

trimming and pruning your trees might seem quite simple and it can be for someone who was trained how to properly do it. That is our goal; provide you with the facts and some instruction if you decide you can perform the tree service work yourself.You should really understand why you are trimming your trees before we delve in to the proper way to do it. The main reason is to keep your tree health so that it may live a long life. Branches that are dying, diseased, too close to other branches or branches that are rubbing against each other, are all good reasons to trim your tree. Trimming your trees is like you going to the doctor for a physical assessment. It should happen regularly and consistently throughout your life just like trimming your trees.

Now that we have established that pruning is more beneficial in the winter, let’s discuss a little more as to why. Pruning during the winter allows the tree to heal faster. When you clip a branch, the instinct is for the tree to heal and grow around that area that was cut. During the winter, the tree is dormant and does not attempt to grow, which give the tree time to heal properly. Also, during the winter most disease-causing pathogens are dormant, which means less of a chance for your tree to get a disease. There is also far less sap flowing from a cut on a tree. We all know sap brings in pests so with less sap, less pests. And probably the most apparent reason to trim and prune during the winter is because it is easier to see what you are trimming when the tree does not have any leaves.

Let’s discuss briefly what kind of tools are best to trim or prune tree branches yourself. If you are going for clean cuts, which basically leaves a smooth surface on the branch where you have cut, you will want to use bypass pruners. In fact, we recommend bypass pruners for all trimming and pruning needs. They can cut branches 2 inches in diameter. Lopping shears are another alternative, which also provide clean cuts. These shears can be bought in different sizes depending upon the diameter of the branches you need to cut. Also, make sure you are trimming your trees during the most ideal time, which is when your tree is dormant during the winter. Pruning during the winter protects your tree from diseases and insect infestations because there are no open wounds.

OK, now you want to know how to cut your tree. Trimming your tree is great because it encourages new growth. For smaller branches, be sure to cut the branch a ¼ inch above a bud. The bud is where the new growth will come from. Cut your branches at a 45-degree angle. This helps to prevent water damage and disease. For larger branches, it is important to know that a callus is formed after proper trimming, which is extremely important for tree health. The callus, much like on our own skin, is thick and protective and a great way to encourage new growth. A large branch requiring trimming will require three cuts. The first two will be to minimise the weight on the branch. Start with the distal branch making your first cut and moving in towards the base of the branch for the second cut. The final cut will be to create the best callus you can, which as mentioned before will be optimal for tree growth.

Step by step instructions on how to trim or prune tree branches yourself :

  1. Move the blade 18-20 inches up the bottom portion of the branch you are trimming. Cut about halfway though the branch.
  2. Bring the blade to the top side of the branch and carefully cut until the branch is free from the tree.
  3. Located the collar on the tree, which is stem tissue that goes around the base of the branch. You want to do your final cut outside of this location. You do not want to leave a stubby portion on the trunk. Make the cut with a 45-degree angle, which will help to create a callus quickly.

Tree trimming does not need to be difficult. As you can see by the directions provided, it can be quite simple if you know what you are doing. Proper tree trimming will help your tree achieve its full potential and provide you with all the wonderful qualities a good tree can, like shade from the sun, aesthetically pleasing view, and perhaps hold a swing for your child. Ultra Tree Services and our tree removal professionals look forward to supporting our community in any way we can. If you have any questions or would like more information, give us a call. We also provide free consultations. You can also visit us on the web at

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