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How do you trim a tree yourself?

Oct 25


Tree services can be dangerous if you try to do it yourself. Many of the skills needed to safely and accurately do the job correctly and safely require years of professional experience.


To avoid damaging your tree, there are certain techniques that you should use. I will make it easy for you and guide you step-by-step through how to trim a tree.


It's a smart idea to search online for the best ways to prune your specific tree type before you start to get out your tools.

Certain types, such as fruit and flowering trees, prefer to be pruned when they have finished blooming or at other times during the year. Most evergreens do not require trimming, other than to remove unwanted growth. 


Is DIY trimming worth it?

Do you want to trim a small tree at eye level with light branches and a canopy? You can do it! You shouldn't attempt to prune a tree if the ladder is too high or if there are large branches that are too difficult to lift.



  1. Let's begin by examining the steps for trimming a single branch and then move on to pruning a small tree. To trim a branch
  2. You should ensure that your pruning tool is clean and sharp.
  3. Learn the different parts of the tree and branch. Here's a quick vocab lesson: The branch collar is the swollen-up area below the branch that connects the tree and branch. This is easy to spot in some trees, but not all. The area between the trunk and branch that is slightly higher than the branch is called the bark ridge. The bark ridge can be thought of as a shoulder, while the collar is the underarm.
  4. Take a look at the area you are going to cut. You want to cut slightly beyond the collar of the branch, but not so much that it cuts the collar.
  5. If you have a thin branch (less than 1 inch), find the sweet spot just beyond the branch collar and cut it at a 45-60° angle to the bark ridge.
  6. To make a thicker branch, follow the three-cut rule. Cut about 10-15 inches above the branch collar and cut halfway through the branch's bottom. Then, move up a few inches beyond that cut and cut through the top of your branch. Let it fall. The final cut should be made just above the branch collar.




  • A wrong cut will not instantly kill your tree. However, pruning incorrectly or too frequently can.
  • A tree can become weaker or even die if it loses too much canopy in a short time. You shouldn't cut more than 25% of the tree's canopy at once.
  • It is also a bad idea to cut the branch collar. The branch collar should be kept intact to ensure that the wound seals properly after pruning. However, if the collar is damaged, decay fungi could spread further within the tree.
  • Last but not least, it can be fatal to cut off the tree's top. 


So for trimming large trees first check out our Tree Trimming Pricing Guide, then make a wise decision.