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Minnesota tree FAQ

Pruning & The Art of the 3-Point Cut

3-point cut diagram

3-point cut diagram

The best method for pruning limbs is called the 3 Point Cut. Practicing this approach will keep you safe and your tree healthy. It will ensure wound compartmentalization and prevent the branch from peeling the bark away from the trunk as it releases. To better communicate this idea, extend one arm straight in front of you. Imagine this is the limb you are going to cut.

1. Keeping in mind the length of your arm (branch), make an undercut approximately 10% out from where your arm connects to you shoulder. Only cut about 20% into the branch, so a not to pinch the saw.

Clean cut

Clean cut

2. The 2nd cut will be above this cut, approximately 12-13% out from where your arm meets your shoulder, leaving a little gap in between the first and second cut. The top cut will cause the branch to sag, eventually severing the branch cleanly.

3. The final cut takes place on the top side of where your shoulder meets your arm. At a 45 degree angle and with a sharp saw, cut downwards and away from the tree trunk. If your arm is still hanging in front of you, your top cut would start at about 1% away from the shoulder and finish on the bottom about 2-3% away from your armpit. Provided you still have both arms, make sure to practice this technique a few times on smaller limbs (2-3” diameter) before working your way up to large limbs over structures.

A bad cut

A bad cut

Or even better, call the professionals at Shadywood Tree Experts for a free estimate. Examples of good and bad cuts:

Kelli Harmon