Making the cut

Making the pruning cut

If you need help finding someone to carry out tree surgery for you, visit our Find an Arborist section.

Branch bark collar

Branch bark collar

A proper pruning cut should almost always be taken back to just outside the branch bark collar. This is often a slightly raised ring at the base of the branch.

On the upperside of the branch is the branch bark ridge, which begins in the crotch of the two branches and runs along the main main stem near parallel to the angle of the branch. A good pruning cut shoud run from just outside the branch bark ridge and angle down and away from the main stem, remaining outside the branch bark collar. You should not cut into the collar or ridge.

Smaller branches

Cutting a larger branch

If it is possible to easily support the weight of the branch with one hand whilst cutting with the other, you can make a single cut with either secateurs or a handsaw whilst carefully supporting the branch to prevent it from tearing away.

Larger branches

With larger branches it is necessary to use the 'three cut' method to avoid tears. First, make a small cut on the underside of the branch a little way out from the branch bark collar. Then cut from the top of the branch just further out than the first cut. If the bark starts to tear as you finish this cut, the first cut will stop the tear from spreading down the stem.

Finally, make a third cut to tidy up the stub you have left, cutting just outside the branch bark collar.

Images courtesy of the US Forestry Service