Basic Pruning Cuts

Basic Pruning Cuts | Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden

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Branches Less than 1-1/2" Diameter
Make a straight cut between two raised furrows of bark on the top and bottom of the branch, where the branch and trunk meet. Specialized healing tissues located only where the branch meets the trunk will allow the plant to seal the cut. (Raised furrows of bark)

Branches Greater than 1-1/2" Diameter
Removing a large branch requires two preliminary cuts before the final cut. Three sperate cuts will prevent the limb's weight from tearing bark down the main trunk and opening a huge wound for pests and diseases to enter.

  1. First cut: Undercut 1/4 of the way through the branch about 6-12 inches out from where the final cut will be.
  2. Second cut: Make a top cut just beyond the first under cut. Saw through the limb, which removes the weight.
  3. Third cut: Make the final cut (as described above).

Pruning Don'ts
Don't rush. Examine the plant from all angles before pruning.
Don't cut into the raised furrows of bark (flush cut).
Don't leave branch stubs (stub cut).
Don't use sealants, which interfere with a plant's ability to heal itself.


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