How to Prune Using the Three Cut Method

There is plenty of information about how to prune using the three cut method.  Today I’d like to show you why to prune using the three cut method.

When pruning trees and shrubs we want the wound to heal quickly.  The quicker the wound heals the better your tree or shrub can seal out attack by disease, rot, and insects.

The three cut method lets your trees and shrubs heal quickly.

How to Prune Trees and Shrubs Using the Three Cut Method

We are going to make three cuts with our pruning saw to remove a branch.

First Cut

Cut from the underside of the branch about a foot from the trunk.  Make this cut about a third of the diameter of the branch.  If you’re pruning a large branch  remove limbs farther out to lighten the load.

Second Cut

Cut from the top of the branch about half-inch to an inch outside the first cut.  The undercut you made in step one will prevent the bark from peeling and damaging the trunk as the branch falls.

Third Cut

Now it is time to make the most important cut at the trunk of the tree or shrub.  There are two parts of the tree you should know about at this phase.

Branch Bark Ridge – The ridged line of bark along the crotch of the tree.

Branch Collar – The swollen growth along the branch.

Your goal is to cut the branch just outside the branch collar and never cut into the branch bark ridge so the cut will heal quickly and seal out insects, disease and moisture.

I look for the swollen part of the branch and try to prune just outside.

If you cut into the Branch Bark Ridge of Branch Collar you can injure the callous tissue of the tree and it may never close the wound, exposing the tree to disease and rot.


If you take a little extra time to do it right your trees and shrubs will thrive.  Be sure your pruning tools are sharp, it reduces the effort involved and improves  your cuts.  Now go out and have fun!

By John Holden

What’s Your Dream?

This week I was pondering what makes me happy.  How do I find joy?

Many of the things that make me happy as an adult were the same things that made me happy when I was a kid.

Some of the things on my “Happy List” are:

  • A good conversation
  • Splitting wood
  • My children smiling
  • Listening up beat music
  • Going to a good movie
  • My cat sitting on my lap
  • Shoveling a light snow
  • Listening to the rain while seated outside
  • Going for a drive to clear my head
  • A sharp chain saw
  • Walking around my yard and seeing the changes in the gardens
  • Walking through a forest
  • Organizing things such as my office, the garage and my truck
  • A pink sunset

What makes you happy?

By John Holden