Skip to main content

How to Prune Thick Branches on Trees or Shrubs

Pruning your trees can help encourage healthy growth and maintain the desired structure you want. To prevent harm when cutting branches thicker than 1 inch, you should use the 3-cut method:

tree branches

1. First you want to cut the selected limb 4 to 6 inches above the location of where you want the final cut to be. (This distance will vary depending on how large the limb is.) Make a half-inch cut into the underside of the branch.
2. Around two inches farther out from your first cut, slice through the branch. The first cut acts as a stopping point, helping to prevent damage to the tree from possible breaking/ripping that may occur from the heaviness of the falling limb. Now there is only a short limb remaining.
3. This final cut is the most crucial. Locate the “collar”, or the junction where the limb meets the trunk and cut about a quarter inch away from the collar. The tissue left within this area will help your tree heal.

With this easy three-step pruning method, you can help ensure your tree stays healthy and strong.
Get the answers to all of your pruning questions with The Pruning Answer Book.

Learn what, when, where and how to prune with help from Cass Turnbull’s Guide to Pruning.

Make the task of pruning easier and more comfortable with premier bypass pruners.

Discover all there is to know about choosing the right plants for the right spots in your garden with the Garden How-To University: Proper Plant Selection & Maintenance.

Overcome your gardening challenges with the Smart Gardening Series: Problem Solving.