How to Safely Trim Tall Trees: Short Guide

Lush and healthy trees can optimize curb appeal, add beauty to your landscape, and increase property value. However, when tree branches are long, they bend over the house and become a safety hazard during lousy weather.

Wondering how to trim tall trees? Are there specific guides and instructions for cutting larger branches? Trimming tall trees includes working with specialized tools, which is why many homeowners decide to hire a professional arborist.

At Cut Rite Tree Service, we pride ourselves on being Clovis’s top-rated tree service and offering locals necessary trimming and pruning assistance. For those who want to try to cut tall trees themselves, we’ll share instructions that will ease the process.

The Basics of Trimming Large Trees

Proper trimming of large trees involves three steps or three cuts:

Step 1: Identify Large and Dead Branches

The first thing you need to do is determine branches that need trimming. Then, you will have to make your first cut, or the notch cut. It is essential to cut a small notch in the branch’s bottom, approximately 2-3 feet away from the trunk.

The small notch will keep the bark from leaning or splitting when making the second cut.

Step 2: Make a Relief Cut

Next, it is time to make the second cut – the relief cut. Outside the notch, cut through the branch. With this cut, you will remove the weight and pressure of the branch, allowing you to make the final cut without the branch falling and splitting.

Step 3: Identify the Branch Collar

Finally, it is time for the final cut. Identify the branch collar, or the collar that appears where a branch grows out from the tree’s trunk. Once you identify the bump, follow the slant and cut from the bottom up.

Tree Trimming Mistakes to Avoid

Now that you know how to trim tall trees, you probably think it is a quick process. However, if you don’t have enough experience, it is easy to make mistakes. Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid.

Leaving the Branch Too Long

If you haven’t done this before, you probably think it is a mistake to leave a short branch, and instead, you leave the limb too long. However, the branch collar can only do its job if you remove all branches, leaving the collar intact.

When you leave long branches, you interfere with the tree’s healing process.

Cutting the Branches Too Short

Cutting the branches too short is not an option either. If you cut them too short, the tree will have difficulty recovering. Also, if you see rotten or empty holes in trees, you are looking at the result of cutting off branches too short.

Failure to Make the Second Cut

If you don’t remove most of the limb’s weight before trimming a tall tree, you face the risk of having the branch split off. Missing the second cut can cause trunk damage and make the tree susceptible to insect infestation or diseases.

Professional Tree Services: Request a Free Estimate Today

DIY trimmers also need to know how to use a safety harness and appropriate tools to ensure they don’t injure themselves during the trimming process.

Many homeowners don’t realize how dangerous it is to trim large trees until they are in the middle of the process and find themselves at risk of injuring themselves with the saw. At that point, they realize that professional arborists are a better choice.

At Cut Rite Tree Service, we know how to trim tall trees safely and efficiently. Contact us today at 559-320-7723 if you want to learn more about tree trimming and pruning services or schedule an appointment to get a free quote.


We are a locally owned company that prides ourselves in providing the best service possible for the residents of Fresno, Clovis, Madera, Sanger, Folwer, Reedley and the surrounding areas.

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1806 N Temperance
Fresno, CA 93727


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