Whether you are pruning dead or living branches it is always important to take care and follow proper techniques.
When pruning branches it is important to only remove the branch and none of the tissue of the main trunk or branch.
Although it is easier to distinguish where the trunk ends and the branch begins there is a separating point The Branch Collar that should not be disturbed.
In the image to the right you can see the Branch Collar exposed on the dead branch. Unfortunately is is more difficult to see when it is hidden under the bark of a living branch.
Method of Making Cuts
In order to not disturb the collar or trunk your first cuts must relieve stress on the branch.
If the branch is large and heavy start from the outside and work your way in removing weight and making the job easier to manage.
When you make your first cut near the collar it should be well away from the trunk so you will not tare the bark around the collar or cause a rip out.
Your final cut will be close to the collar to remove the remainder of the branch. When in doubt leave more material instead of cutting too close.
When making your final cut you should start by making a small under cut (from the bottom up) through the bark of the branch if it is still alive. This will reduce taring of the bark when you make your full cut from the top.
Cutting the collar off and flush to the trunk of the tree or branch if you are removing only a section of a larger branch is one of the most common mistakes.
Doing this will reduce the ability of the tree to heal naturally and may result in death of the tree.
Tools to be used
You should always use the least aggressive saw tooth pattern that the job requires.
This is very important on the final cut and a sharp pruning handsaw should be used if the branch is less then 4 inches in diameter.
The sharper the blade and the higher the tooth count will result in a crisp cut that will not allow bugs or bacteria to cause damage before the tree can heal its wound.
When you have the chance and see a professional Arborist working on trees in your area take time to notice their techniques.
You will find that unless the tree is very small they never cut them down with a single cut to the base of the tree. You will also see that when removing large branches they do so in sections to reduce the stress on the tree and also to reduce the sway of the tree when the weight falls.
You will also notice that when cutting branches on trees they will be saving they always safeguard lower branches from damage.
Although trimming trees and pruning branches may seem like a job that you can perform it actually takes many years to master the job and to know each tree you tend to will be better off and survive for years to come.
When in doubt hire a professional. Trees take decades or generations to grow and making a simple mistake can leave your home and garden a less enjoyable space if the tree must eventually be removed.
Safety is also a very important
When possible you should always have a spotter or a person that can stand far enough away from the work zone to watch everything that is happening.
If you are using power tools especially a chain saw be careful of your saw jumping back at you when the weight of the branch is released.
And always be careful of falling objects.
The YouRepair Store carries a full line of Garden Equipment including pruners and chainsaws