Sometimes it is necessary to remove large branches on a tree. This type of trimming requires more care than simply snipping back a few branch tips, so make sure you know the dos and don'ts of the process.
DO Work In Sections
Unless the large branch in question is the lowermost branch on the trunk, there can be an issue with it damaging smaller branches below it as it comes down after cutting. A large branch crashing down can also pose a danger to people and property below. The best way to counteract these issues is to work in sections. Beginning at the tip of the large branch, remove it in sections that are small enough to be lowered down instead of crashing down. You may want to attach a line or rope to the branch as you work so the sections won't fall freely as you cut through them.
DON'T Cut Through From the Top
There is a proper way to cut a branch, and it doesn't involve sawing downward from the top of the branch until you cut through. This method causes the weight of the branch to tear it off the trunk, damaging the bark in the process, when you get about halfway through the branch. Instead, use a three-cut method after you have removed the main length in sections as applicable. Make the first cut 6 inches out from where the branch joins the trunk. Cut about a third of the way through the branch from the bottom. Make the second cut 4 inches out from the first cut, cutting through the top and bringing down the bulk of the branch. Finally, make the third cut at the base, cutting through from the top. That center cut helped reduce the stress on the branch during cutting so that it didn't tear off.
DO Make Flush Cuts
Around the base of the branch at the trunk junction is a raised ridge of wood known as the branch collar. When you're removing a whole branch, you need to cut flush to the collar without cutting into it, as the collar is needed for prompt healing. Don't leave a stub protruding from the collar, either. A tree can't seal over a stub, so rot, pests, and diseases can attack it.
DON'T Paint Over the Wound
Pruning paint or wound dressings are rarely necessary, as they tend to slow down the tree's natural ability heal, which results in more harm than good. If you make clean cuts and prune at the right time, which is typically late winter, there is absolutely no need to paint over a pruning wound.
Contact a tree trimming service if you need more help with removing a large branch on your landscape tree.