After a winter of heavy snows, ice storms and high winds, West Michigan homeowners will spend a lot of time pruning damaged tree limbs this spring. Here’s what you need to know before you tackle the job.
First, assess the job. Do you have the proper tools and skills needed to do the job safely? If you’re not certain, hire it out. It’s better to pay a professional than to create more damage or take a trip to the ER.
If you decide to do it yourself, plan your work.
- Are there overhead utility lines?
- Where will the branch fall when cut?
- What will you do with the limb after it’s cut?
One branch, three cuts
When you remove a tree branch, big or small, use the three-cut technique. Why three cuts? Because it prevents stripping the bark down the trunk, which can affect the long-term health of the tree. Yes, three cuts take longer, but it’s worth it because it avoids further damage.
Determine where the last cut will be first; this is the cut that will be closest to the trunk. You want to leave the branch collar intact. The branch collar is the tissue that swells at the base of a branch.
Your first cut will be on the underside of the branch; it’s actually a notch. Move outward from the point of the last cut and cut through the bark on the underside of the branch. This cut doesn’t sever the branch; it just makes a notch deep enough so that the bark doesn’t rip away when the branch comes.
Your second cut is the one that severs the branch from the tree. Moving outward from the cut on the underside of the branch (and the trunk), cut completely through the limb.
Your third cut removes the nub that’s left and is nearly even with the trunk of the tree.
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