How To Cut A Vertical Tree Branch

Pruning is always an intimidating process, and when it comes to cutting down whole trees, it is even trickier!

You'll generally find low hanging tree limbs easier to cut and access. But how about vertical branches?

Here are a couple of steps and know-how to get your vertical tree limbs a clean cut.

Before You Get Started

Do not forget, from snapping branches and slippery conditions to hidden power cables and having to deal with heights, tree work can be dangerous!

Before bringing down your tree branches, you should identify if they really need to be cut down. Yes, there are reasons why tree limbs need to be cut. These include:

  • Cracked/over-sagging under leaves or snow weight
  • Decaying or dead branch
  • Branch growing towards another person's property
  • Infested branch
  • Damage caused after a strong storm
  • Shaping the tree

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When To Cut Down Tree Branches

Although tree branches should be cut whenever either of the above reasons pops up, pruning tree branches during certain periods will ensure a faster growth and healing time. Try to prune while the tree is still dormant as it will reduce the risks of infestations and open-cut wounds.

The best time to do this would be sometime during winter - see the best time to trim trees in Illinois.

As earlier said, you can cut down tree branches at any time (like for dead branches or for safety reasons), but it's better to avoid rainy days or when the weather is humid outside.

Things To Look Out For When Cutting A Vertical Tree Branch

Now that you have a solid reason to cut down your branches let's see a couple of important points to consider while you're at it.

Cutting Angle

The cutting angle is important when cutting down your branch as it will determine how and where it will fall. The angle is also crucial for a clean healing process and how it will form the callus tissue (scar tissue).

Size Of Branch

The size of the tree limb is different not only in every tree but within the tree itself. The size will dictate a couple of stuff, including the type of tools to use. In essence, chainsaws are for thick, large branches, while hand pruners are ideal for smaller branches.

Height Of Branch

The branch height would determine if you'll need an extra tool to extend your pruner or if you'll need a ladder to climb. You can use an extendable shear, or you can DIY your way up!

Trimming Tools

Taking the above considerations, you can use different pruning tools to remove your vertical tree branch. So here are common tools we'd recommend for this job.

Pruning Shears (clippers, secateurs, or pruners)

Pruning shears are great for small branches as they can cut up to ¾ of an inch of thickness. They are hand-held and pretty easy to use. Plus, pruners are great for specific cuts, and precision is its best spot. They work great for lower branches and branches that are easy to reach.

Tree Loppers

Loppers work best for branches up to 2½ inches thick and might look similar to hand shears. Tree Loppers have thick blades and long handles that can cut branches that pruning shears can't handle.

Long Reach Tree Pruner

They are great for branches that are unreachable but not too high up. A long reach tree pruner can go as high as 7ft and not that heavy to carry around. Though at a 7ft reach, it is best for shorter people.

Proper Vertical Tree Branching Techniques

You should be careful while cutting tree branches to avoid the risk of pests and diseases. Before you start, you should know the proper techniques to properly cut your branches. Here are a few tips to follow while removing branches:

Identify The Branch Collar

After deciding which branch to go for, you need to locate the branch collar. The branch collar is where you'll find all branches sprouting from. It is easier to identify in some trees than others, but it shouldn't take you all day.

Make sure you start cutting from the branch collar to allow the tree to heal properly and form a good callus.

Cut In A Downwards Angle

As you remove the affected branch, make sure to cut in a downward angle so that water does not accumulate. If there's water buildup, your tree will rot fast.

Avoid Trimming Branches That Are Going Up

Most newbies, when cutting down branches, remove branches that are going up, which is a common mistake. Cutting a branch that's facing up will leave a wound that will allow water to settle, eventually causing the tree to rot.

Don't Cut Too Deep

Leaving a deep stub on the tree trunk is not recommended. It is also a great hub for water accumulation and improper callus growth.

Follow these quick steps when pruning your tree branches:

1. Remove suckers growing at the base of the tree trunk

2. Remove all dead and dying tree branches

3. Eliminate weak branches

4. Remove overlapping branches that touch each other

If this is your first time, it is best to start small and work your way into doing it properly. You can start by removing the dead branches first before heading to trim tree branches for other reasons. Once you get the hang of it, you can start advanced pruning methods and feel comfortable doing so!

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