When removing an entire tree branch, cut as close to the branch collar — the swollen ring of bark where the limb meets the main stem or trunk — as possible without cutting into it. When cutting branches more than 1 inch in diameter, avoid tearing or stripping bark by using a pruning saw and the three-cut method shown below. A good pruning cut will heal quickly and naturally without the use of dressings or poultices.

Three-cut branch removal
To prune a tree limb cleanly and safely, as shown in Image 7 (left), use a pruning saw and make these three sequential cuts:
1. On the bottom of the limb between 6 and 12 inches from the trunk; cut about one-quarter of the way through.
2. Through the limb from the top, starting about 1 inch beyond the first cut. (The weight of the branch may cause it to snap off before the cut is complete.)
3. Completely through the short remaining stub from top to bottom just beyond the swollen branch collar. (Support the stub while sawing, to make a clean cut.)

Remove fast-growing stems, called suckers, that grow up from the roots or the base of the trunk as they appear, as well as the extravigorous (and often weakly attached) shoots, called watersprouts, that grow straight up from the trunk or branches.

Mature trees require only occasional pruning to maintain their structure and appearance. Never make the mistake of cutting off the top of a tree's canopy to reduce its size. Topping typically leaves the tree much less attractive and much more prone to weak growth and pests.
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