How to Trim or Prune Tree Branches Yourself?

With Ultra Tree Services’ many years of experience working with customers, we have discovered many misconceptions and misunderstandings about pruning and trimming tree branches. We have also witnessed the damage caused to trees when they are not maintained properly. Correct or inadequate cutting can leave your trees vulnerable to various enemies, such as insects and bacteria. Don’t worry, we will be happy to come and remove your dead or dying tree. We just wish your trees survive. Trimming and pruning your trees might seem simple and it is for someone who was trained to do it correctly. That is our goal, to provide you with the facts and some guidance if you choose to do the job yourself.

Trimming your tree should be done for the proper reason, which is to keep your tree healthy so it may live a long life. Dying, diseased, too close or rubbing together branches are all good reasons why trees should be trimmed. Like going to the doctor for a physical assessment, pruning your trees should occur regularly and consistently throughout your life. We have established that pruning trees in the winter is more beneficial. Let’s talk about why. When you cut a branch in the winter, the instinct is for that tree to heal and grow around the area that was cut. In the winter, the tree is dormant and doesn’t try to grow, which helps it to heal. Also, in the winter most pathogens that cause diseases go dormant which means less of a chance for your tree to get disease.

We also know sap attracts pests so with less sap, we have less pests. And most certainly the most evident reason to trim and prune in the winter is that it is far easier to see where you are trimming when the tree has no leaves. Let’s talk briefly about the best tools for tree trimming. For clean cuts, which have a smooth surface where they cut, we recommend bypass pruners. Bypass pruners are perfect for all pruning and trimming needs. They will cut branches 2 inches in diameter. Lopping shears are another option that will also cut branches cleanly. Lopping shears come in different sizes based on the diameters of the branches that you would like to cut. Make sure your trees are trimmed during the ideal time, which is when the trees are dormant during the winter.

By pruning your tree in winter, you help to safeguard it from diseases and insect infestations because you don’t have any open wounds. So, you want to know how to trim your tree. Trimming your tree helps to stimulate 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. Branches should be cut at a 45-degree angle to prevent water damage and disease. A thick callus, similar to the skin on our skin, forms after proper pruning for larger branches, which is crucial for healthy tree growth. It is thick and protective, and is an ideal way to encourage new growth. A large branch will require three cuts. The first two will allow you to minimize the weight on the branch. Begin with the distal branch, making your first cut, and moving toward the base of the branch making your second cut. In the final cut, you’ll have to make the best callus you can, because that’s what’s best for tree growth. Step by step instructions are as follows:

  1. Move the blade up the bottom portion of the branch about 18-20 inches. Cut halfway through the branch.
  2. Let the blade come in contact with the top of the branch and carefully cut until the branch is detached from the tree.
  3. It is beneficial to cut outside the collar, which is the stem tissue that surrounds the base of the branch. You do not want to leave a stubby portion on the trunk. Cut at a 45-degree angle, which will help create a callus quicker.

You can see from the directions provided that tree trimming does not have to be difficult if you know what you are doing. Properly trimming trees will give you all the benefits a good tree has to offer, like shade from the sun, beautiful views, and maybe even hold a swing. Our tree removal professionals at Ultra Tree Services look forward to supporting our community in any way we can. If you have any questions or would like more information, we offer free consultations. You can also visit us on the web at

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