Tree Removal Utah | How To Trim Tree Branches

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If you’re trimming heavy tree limbs, you have to be extra careful. Because you may damage the bark or interfere with the tree’s natural healing response. Doing it right is no more difficult than doing it wrong. Mainly if you think ahead to how much work it would take to remove a dead tree!

Tree Removal Utah | Here’s how to cut large tree limbs in your yard in three simple steps.


Poorly healed wound due to an improper pruning cut.

Tree Removal Utah | How Trees Heal

The truth is, trees don’t heal as we do. When you cut off a tree branch. The tree forms a particular callous tissue (like a scar). This covers over the wound to keep out disease and decay. That scarred part of the tree will be there forever, sealed off so that the rest of the tree can keep growing. It’s essential to prune trees correctly so that we don’t interfere with this process – incorrect pruning will leave the tree weak and vulnerable to disease.

In the top photo, you can see the evidence of several massive pruning cuts. The bumps show well healed pruning scars, most of them completely covered over. The “donut” shaped scar is typical, too. The callous tissue grows from the outside edges toward the centre, so it’s still in the process of sealing over.

Take the time to do it right.

Tree Removal Utah | How to Cut a Tree Limb?

Proper pruning of large tree limbs involves three cuts:

    • Cut #1, Notch Cut: Cut a small notch in the bottom of the limb, 2-3 feet away from the trunk, and about a quarter of the way through. This notch will keep the bark from splitting when you make the next cut.
    • Cut #2, Relief Cut: Just outside the notch, make a relief cut entirely through the branch. This removes the weight of the branch so that you can make your final cut without the branch splitting and falling.
  • Cut #3, Final Cut: This is the one that matters! Your final cut should be right where the branch collar (that swollen bump) transitions to smooth branch bark. Follow the slant of the branch collar. If you can’t fit your saw into the crotch at the right angle, then cut it from the bottom up.

Tree Removal Utah | Common Tree Trimming Mistakes

Cutting the Branch Too Short: We used to think that branches should be cut off flush with the trunk – boy, were we ever wrong! The branch collar is responsible for forming the scar tissue. If you cut into the branch collar, the tree will have a tough time recovering. When you see rotten holes in tree trunks or seeping wounds, you’re looking at the aftermath of cutting off the branch collar.

Leaving the Branch Too Long: The branch collar on the truck can only do its job of allowing the wound to heal if all of the branches that it has to cover over has been removed while leaving the branch collar itself intact. In the photo on the right, you can see how the branch stubs that were left too long are interfering with and preventing the healing process from taking place.

Failure to Make the Relief Cuts: If you fail to make the relief cuts and remove most of the weight of the limb before trimming the branch back to the trunk, you run the risk of having the branch split off. This can cause substantial damage to the trunk, as seen in the photo at right. This can make the wound on the trunk susceptible to disease and insect infestation and take much longer to heal.