How to prune a tree

If you have a rampant tree that needs a trim, maybe now is the time to prune it.  Give your tree new life by following the steps below to properly prune your tree.


  • An adult tree (if pruned properly), only needs to be trimmed about every 3 to five years.  Try and identify any truncated or suppressed branches before you start.  You will need to get rid of them and also some excess internal growth.


  • The ideal tool to use here would be a smallish chainsaw.  This will make your job much easier.  If, on the other hand you don’t mind the extra workout, you will get great exercise by using a curved saw.  The correct way of cutting a branch is to first “undercut” it.  Saw into the branch from the bottom up, to prevent tearing of the bark when the branch breaks off.  You should only saw into the branch about 20 percent of its width, to prevent your saw from getting pinched as gravity pulls the branch down.


  • Once the undercut is in place, you need to start sawing about one inch BEHIND the undercut (closer to the parent limb), from the top.


  • Once you saw the branch off far enough, gravity will take over and cause the branch to break off under its own weight.  Because of the undercut you’ve made the break will now cause a neat ‘step’ in the trimmed limb.


  • In order for the tree to heal itself, you will need to get rid of the ‘step’ you’ve created.  Look at where the branch is protruding from the tree.  The place where the branch meets the tree is called the “branch collar”.  If you cut into this, the decay from the branch will once again affect the parent limb.  Try and cut the branch off at a right angle to the place of emergence from the tree.


  • Once this is done and all the branches are hacked off, take care of any other sprouting growths with a pair of secateurs.  Once the foliage in the funnel of the tree is cut back, more light will be able to penetrate and this will inhibit the growth of aphids.  This will bring back the life in your tree.

Author: Shaun De Kock

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment