How to Trim a Tree with a Pruning Saw

Your landscape area is perhaps one of the most important external features of any home. We want this space to be visually appealing not just for us, but also for anyone who might be glancing your direction when they drive by. 

An important part of this upkeep process is tree trimming. Some of us call in our local company for routine tree trimming but there are many of us who prefer to take care of our own maintenance and upkeep if we are able. 

Did you know that you can trim your trees with a pruning saw? In fact, pruning saws were specifically designed for this type of purpose. In the world of saws, we see every kind of saw from detailed scroll saws to cutting table saws. It makes sense that there would be a saw for tree trimming as well. 

In this guide, we will guide you through the process of trimming a tree with a prune saw. Our hope is that when we finish the guide, you will understand the process and feel comfortable in taking on your tree trimming with that pruning saw you rarely use in the garage. 

Let’s get started, shall we?

What is a Pruning Saw?

Pruning saws typically have tapering blades on them. The blade can be either curved or straight, it varies by model and selection. Pruning saws vary in many ways across the board. They might have open or closed ends. Some pruning saws have folding handles and others are attached to poles that can extend and retract.

Pruning saws have sharp teeth on them, much like saws and blades that are used for cutting wood of any kind. These saws were specifically designed for pruning different things like trees, limbs, and bushes.
The type of pruning saw you need or use could depend on what you are facing when it comes to pruning. It is recommended that you determine which type of pruning saw you should use based on the type of pruning you are completing.

Keep in mind that these saws are designed for pruning. They are not meant to be tasked with cutting down overly large branches or handling the tree itself. They are meant more for upkeep purposes. Consider your limitation to be primarily small branches and any size of shrub or bush.

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Types of Pruning Saws

Let’s cover a quick overview of some of the different types of pruning saws and their recommendations or limitations. If you are working with a small shrub or branches that are less than 1.5 inches in diameter, you can use a hand pruner instead of a saw. 

Anything larger than that will probably need a pruning saw. Here is a breakout of the different saws and types. 

Fine-Toothed Limb Saw

When it comes to smaller branches, the fine-toothed limb saw is your go-to. Use a curved limb saw for tight spaces to really be able to squeeze the blade into where it needs to go. A short blade will be helpful in tight situations as well. 

A fine-toothed saw is great for branches that are 1.5-2.5 inches in diameter. As the branch diameter grows, you will want coarser teeth that are farther apart. 

Coarse-Toothed Limb Saw

A pruning saw with coarse teeth is best for large and heavy branches. The larger the branch, the coarser your teeth should be in order to handle the branch. 

Whether you use curved, short, long, or straight could vary here depending upon where the limb is and how it is set amongst other branches within the tree. This part of the puzzle differs depending on how you approach the branch. 

Coarse-toothed pruning saws are best for branches that exceed 2.5 inches in diameter. 

Fixed-Blade Pruning Saw

A fixed-blade pruning saw is exactly as it sounds. It comes with a single style of blade that is fixed and attached. The blade can be straight or curved and is covered by a scabbard when it is not in use. 

Use straight blades for pruning green limbs and small plants. Use curved blades for running dry wood that requires a quick and powerful cut. 

Folding-Blade Pruning Saw

With this type of pruning saw, the blade folds into the handle for safe and convenient transport or storage options. Folding-blade saws typically contain shorter blades so you may find them limiting as to what they can handle. 

Pole Saw

A pole saw can have any of the above designs but it is attached to a long pole. The pole can typically extend as needed to reach higher limbs. These are used for high areas to make those places easier to reach. 

Saw Summary

We’ve simply shared a summary of a few types and references you might see when reading or discussing pruning saws. These varieties can have mixed designs and styles or shapes. You might find curved or straight in any of the above and the teeth settings can also vary. 

Now, let’s get down to business. 

Trimming Trees with a Pruning Saw – The Process

sawing tree branch

While we are going to walk you through the basic process of using a pruning saw to trim your trees or bushes, we want you to be aware that you may need a little more ground work before you get started. 

You need to understand what type of tree or bush you are trimming and which type of saw will work best for your needs. There are far too many different types of trees out there for us to cover every single one in this guide. 

Some trees require additional steps or even specialized processes so we just want you to be aware that you should be informed on all aspects that pertain to your tree before you get started. 

One more thing, safety is important. Be sure to check your surroundings. For example, if there are power lines nearby, you may need to consider calling in backup. Please be sure to wear proper safety attire and to stay aware during the process. 

1. Plan for your Cuts

Start by identifying your cut locations. Find the branch collar, which is typically near where the branch connects to the tree. You will want to cut as close to the collar as possible without damaging the collar. You never want water to be able to settle into your cut space as this could lead to rot. 

Be sure you have the proper pruning tools required for the job. 

2. Prune Suckers First

As you start your trimming, trim off suckers to get started. Suckers are branches that almost look like weeds that tend to grow near the base of the trunk. They will never become strong, sturdy branches and they will always be unsightly as well. 

These suckers are named so because they suck energy away from the tree that can be better used elsewhere for the overall health of the tree Get rid of those things! 

3. Trim Dead Branches

Next, remove any dead or obviously dying branches. You will be amazed at how much this can do for your tree. Once you get these branches out of your way, it makes any other trimming so much easier. 

Always use downward cuts for any branches that you cut away and remove. 

4. Find Hazardous and Unwanted Branches

You should have a better visual at this point. Look for branches that appear to be hanging haphazardly or unstable. You can identify damaged branches from storms. It’s time to remove any broken or weak branches. 

These branches may still be alive so be sure to be careful of your cuts and working in a downward cutting motion, but they still need to be removed. 

5. Crossing Branches

You’re almost to the finish line! To finish the trimming process, identify branches that are overlapping or perhaps even rubbing against each other. While these branches are probably not causing a current issue, they could become an issue at some point. 

Branches that rub or come into contact can cause damage to each other and weaken over time. You can remove them both if they appear damaged or you can look for damage and remove just one. If neither appears damaged, we recommend simply removing the smaller branch to prevent future damage. 

Conclusion

These are the basic steps that you should following to trim trees with a pruning saw. If you’re new at trimming trees, we recommend that you work your way slowly through the process. Remember that you may need different types of blades for different branch locations and sizes. 

When it comes to removing large limbs, use the utmost care. Safety is the most important thing and you may need to consider having help or using stabilization methods to avoid injuries. 

And finally, don’t over trim the tree. When trimming, you never want to remove more than a fourth of the living branches on the tree. If you have significant trimming needs, you may need to break it up over a few years to avoid trimming too much at one time. 

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Corona RazorTOOTH Folding Pruning Saw, 10 Inch Curved Blade, RS 7265D
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Heavy Duty Pruning Saw (Razor Sharp 14" Curved Blade) Comfort Handle with Saw Blade Enclosure - Japanese Style Hand Saw - Perfect for Trimming Trees, Plants, Shrubs, Wood, and More!
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Corona RS 7510D RazorTOOTH Heavy Duty Pruning Curved Blade Trimming Saw for Hand Cutting Tree Limbs and Branches, 18
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