Trimming Tree Limbs

Removing limbs from trees and shrubs is a necessary part of gardening, but you must do the job correctly. To avoid splintering the cut, make a relief cut a foot or so outside the branch collar. This will remove the weight of the limb so you can make a cleaner final cut. The final cut should be just outside the collar or wrinkled area where the branch and the tree join.

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Backed by his 40-year remodeling career, Danny served as the home improvement expert for CBS’s The Early Show and The Weather Channel for more than a decade. His extensive hands-on experience and understanding of the industry make him the go-to source for all things having to do with the home – from advice on simple repairs, to complete remodels, to helping homeowners prepare their homes for extreme weather and seasons.


  1. I have about 25 sawtooth oak trees that were planted from seedlings one year ago. They have done really well. But I want to trim the lower branches to make them look more like a tree and not shrubs. Is it ok to trim them in August.

  2. We love to do backyard gardening, but each year there’s less sun exposure due to a maple tree in the corner that grows over our backyard. The limbs are a story high, very full of leaves, and healthy. We can’t afford to hire a helper, so realistically and logically, what are our best tool options? ). Our sun availability on the land is a third, and no noon sun. Thanks for concerning me and my wife, we hope to do this as soon as possible. Robert and RITA Smith

  3. Is there any way to keep new limbs from growing where you trim limbs? Seems like when we trim there is more new growth! Help!

  4. We have a Big Maple (35- 40 ft) tree that has limbs that appear to have died, meaning that they are without leaves and bark looks bad, mostly on the east side .
    Sorry but I don’t know how to address the problem.

  5. I have a pin oak I planted from seedling about 25 years ago. My local power company says its too close to electric lines and must be trimmed.
    They say they’ve a 40ft. easement and my tree is about 8-10 feet from the wires…not even close to touching them! Can this oak tree limbs be cut shorter in length, or is it required to trim all the way to the branch collar at the trunk?

    • Hi, Mark,
      Gardening questions can be tricky since the rules can change based on the region. You didn’t include the location, so we would suggest contacting your local Master Gardeners association.
      Master gardeners train on a range of topics so they can provide advice, at no charge, for people in their area.
      Thanks for your question, and good luck!

  6. Our neighbors tree is 25-30’ y’all. Whenever we have high winds the tree limbs come down and have damaged our property. 1,000.00 damage to our fence is the most expensive. He just had the tee trim of the branches on our side but doesn’t this make it more top heavy ? Thank you for your answer

    • Hi, Irene,
      You can mix a growth regulator with water, according to the product’s directions, and then brush your cuts with the mixture to discourage growth.
      Thanks for your question!


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