Five Common Mistakes To Avoid When Cutting A Large Branch Off A Tree

If you need to remove a large branch from one of your trees, you need to do it carefully to ensure you don't damage the tree. There are key things you should avoid during this process. Here's a look at the five most common errors:

1. Forgetting the Notch

To ensure you make a clean cut, you shouldn't cut off the whole branch at once. Instead, you should start by making a notch in the branch about an arm's length from the tree trunk. Don't cut all the way through the branch; just make a notch into it.

The notch helps to prevent the bark from ripping. It's important to keep as much bark intact as possible near the site of the cut because ultimately the bark forms the tree's protective scar tissue.

2. Cutting Off the Whole Branch at Once

After making the notch, move your saw a bit further down the branch, away from the trunk, and cut off the bulk of the branch. This removes most of the weight, and it makes the rest of the cutting process easier. In particular, it prevents the extra weight from causing the branch to rip away from the tree in the midst of cutting it.

3. Sawing Past the Collar

Once you've removed most of the branch, you can work on cutting the remaining bit. However, you should not cut it flush with the tree. This close of a cut can damage the tree. If you see sap, you've cut too far — unfortunately, you can't undo the cut, but you should make a mental note for next time.

To guide your cut, look for a subtle ring around the branch near the trunk. This is the collar. Cut the branch so that the collar stays intact. This facilitates the healing process.

4. Leaving Too Much Branch

While it's important to keep the collar intact, it's also important not to leave too much extra branch. After you cut a branch, the bark from the collar grows over the cut and protects the inside of the tree. If there's a long bit of branch sticking out from the collar, the bark won't be able to grow over it.

5. Not Getting Professional Help

There are a number of risks associated with tree trimming, and they range from falling to damaging the tree. To be on the safe side, you may want to get professional help. Tree trimmers are experienced with working with all kinds of tree species, and they know how to make cuts that foster the health of the tree.