How to Cut Tall Tree Limbs

Updated February 21, 2017

Pruning or trimming the limbs of a tree is sometimes necessary for the tree's health or for safety reasons. Careful thought must go into pruning any tree, as improper pruning can damage a tree and leave it susceptible to insects and disease. By following sound trimming procedures, however, you can safely trim your tall trees and keep them healthy.

Identify the branch you want to trim. Find the branch collar, the point at the bottom of the branch where branch joins the stem.

Make a shallow cut on the bottom of branch with a pole saw just outside the branch collar. Avoid cutting into the branch collar.

Make a second cut on the top of the branch, just outside the first cut. Cut all the way through the branch. This will leave a short stub.

Cut off the stub as close as you can to the branch collar without cutting the collar itself.


Make sure you only prune tall trees if you can use a pole saw with your feet planted firmly on the ground. If you need a ladder to prune your tree, you should get a professional to do the job.


Make sure that you do not prune more than one-fourth of a tree's living branches at a time. Avoid crown topping. This is the indiscriminate of all of a tall tree's top branches to reduce its height. This results in weak new growth that can harm the overall health of the tree. Do not make any cuts flush with the branch collar. These cuts can lead to decay.

Things You'll Need

  • Pole saw
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About the Author

Mark Pendergast has worked as a freelance writer since 2007, focusing on topics such as health, sports and finance. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and librarian and has written for the "Northside Sun" and "Jackpot," among other publications. Pendergast holds a Bachelor of Arts from Millsaps College.