How to Safely Cut Off A Tree Branch Without Killing The Tree?

Last Updated on June 12, 2022 by Gary Stephen

Have you ever wondered the best way to safely cut off tree branch? I mean, where on earth do you even begin?

Best way to safely cut off the branch

The best way to ensure the safety of your tree is to make sure that you:

  • Only cut the branches that need to go
  • Cut the branch off correctly
  • Cut the branch off during the correct season

These three steps are required to ensure your tree does not die from bad pruning. So, before you even lift a pole saw, lopper or pruner, first take a moment to consider if the branch actually needs to be cut off the tree. Don’t worry, we’ll tell you the ins and outs of everything you need to know to get started.

Identify which branches need cutting?Trimming tree branch without killing tree

  • Branches that are a hazard, either to the tree ro for safety reasons
  • Branches that are close to breaking
  • Dead branches

Grabbing a pruner and chopping all ‘unsightly’ branches will do far more damage in the long run, and you can kill the tree, as every branch is a lifeline. Think of it as a water system. The whole tree is a pipe-line with each branch an extension of the mainline. They, in turn, ensure the main source receives the water and nutrients it needs to survive. By cutting off branches left and right you run the risk of the tree dying of plain old starvation.

It needs branches and leaves to survive. That being said, let’s talk about trimming.

Trimming a tree’s smaller branchessafely cut off branch trim smaller branches

When trimming a tree, don’t do it in a ‘Lion’s tail’ style, where you cut off all the leaves on the length of the branch and only leave some at the tip. This will badly hurt a tree’s ability to absorb what it needs to survive.

Trim carefully and only what needs to go.

Should I cut off dead branches from my tree?


Pruning a tree once a year is always a good idea. Dead branches are a magnet for diseases, insects and other infestations. If those insects get into the dead stems, they can quickly spread to the healthier part of the tree and possibly kill it.

Other notices to cut off a branch safelyHow to safely cut off branch

The biggest dangers when cutting off a branch is infection, rot and bugs. All of these can be avoided if you make sure to follow these steps.

1) Aim to cut about 1 inch away from the tree.

Cutting any closer will prevent the tree from sealing off the wound and it will stay open for infection and bugs. Cutting it too far will have the same effect. You want to leave enough so that the tree can mend but not so much that the stub can die and rot. Remember, dead stems attract insects, and a stub can quickly die if it’s protruding too far out from the tree.

2) Never cut into the collar

The collar is a thick ring surrounding the base of the branch. Cutting this off will prevent the tree from healing efficiently as it holds cells which make this process faster. When cutting, leave this part well alone. It might look unseemly, but it is needed for a tree to survive.

3) Before cutting off the branch make two cuts.

Making extra cuts in a big branch will prevent it from snapping where you’re actually sawing and possibly leaving an ugly break which could cause problems for the tree. So, before you start sawing off the limb properly, make two cuts:

  • One underneath the branch about six inches away from where you will be cutting.
  • The other one inch further up the branch.
  • These cuts are about an inch or so deep

For a more in-depth description of how to cut off a tree, please follow this link.

You might be interested to read also: What Is the Best Tool to Cut Tree Branches?

When is the best time to prune a tree?When is the best time to prune a tree

Winter. In the colder seasons, trees are dormant and far less susceptible to diseases and insects. It also encourages new growth in the warmer seasons. Very early in the spring is another possibility, but if it’s a flowering tree, rather leave it till late spring after it has finished blooming.

Summer and fall are not the best time to cut a branch, but if it is a hazard then any time is a good time. 

Call Houston arborists to prune your trees

Wrapping up

And there we have it! No more need to worry about where and how to cut your tree branches. This nifty guide will take you through the process, step by step, so you can focus on getting to your next big gardening project. 

Gary Stephen
Gary Stephen

Hi, I am Gary Stephen. I have been gardening for a long time. Gardening gives us much benefits and pleasure. Many of us desire to have a garden, but it cannot fulfill the desire for the proper guide or instruction of gardening. So, I am eager to help them. For this purpose, I have developed the website to make a garden with the proper guide. So, you will get me beside you if you want to know anything about gardening.