How to Prune and Trim a Tree with a Chainsaw

How to Prune and Trim a Tree with a Chainsaw

Are you planning to prune or trim fallen tree or smaller tree with low branches using a chainsaw? If your answer is ‘yes’, here are some tips that can guide you on how to successfully prune or trim a tree with a chainsaw. Chainsaws are versatile tools needed to maintain the garden or lawn and ensure the surroundings are tidy. Storms can uproot trees or break off the branches of some trees around our homes and gardens, especially, if you are living in a wooded terrain.

Below are some of the basic tips to note when you want to prune and trim your trees.

  1. Start pruning by making a cut one or two feet under the trunk of the tree. This cut should be deeper into the middle of the trunk.
  2. Secondly, make another cut on the same trunk a little above and opposite to the first cut.
  3. At this stage, the branch will break out and fall off on its own due to the weight without tearing the bark of your tree.
  4. Then, cut off the remaining stub close to the tree trunk at the branch collar. This will facilitate a quicker healing process for the tree.
  5. Do not paint the cut unless there a chance of insect infestation because it may cause infections in the tree.

Once you have pruned the tree you may want to use a wood chipper to turn those old branches and leaves into mulch and wood chips. If you need to buy a wood chipper you may be interested in reading my review of the best wood chipper shredders.

You could also just buy my recommended choice from here.

Depending on the situation you may also want to cut down the whole tree. If so you will want to make sure that you have a good homeowner chainsaw that is suitable for this and ensures that you fell the tree in a direction that lands without damaging anything. Find out how to fell a tree in the direction that you want.

What time of year to prune and trim trees

Pruning is a very necessary exercise needed to maintain the health of trees and ensure a decent environment. However, the reason why you prune and trim your trees should be considered before deciding whether the time is convenient or not. If you want to carry out a minor trimming, you can do this at any time of the year; same goes for the removal of dead wood too.

There are two major seasons in a year (winter pruning and summer pruning) when it is best to trim your trees for best results and less harm to the plant.

Pruning and trimming in winter

One of the best times to prune a tree is basically during the winter. This is especially so for flowering trees and shrubs. Winter pruning ensures an outburst of new shoots in the springtime. However, the coldest period of winter is regarded as a bad time to prune trees because most species may begin to bleed. If you prune a tree in winter you may notice sap begin to flow out from where you cut. This will stop in time usually when the leaves begin to come out. This is not usually harmful to the tree.

Pruning and trimming during the summer

Another important season to prune or trim trees is during the summer. If you intend to reduce foliage or remove some branches that you don’t want and control the growth or height of the tree, you can prune in summer.

You can also trim these trees in early spring after their flowers have faded to ensure a better re-growth, especially trees that blossom in early spring.

Pruning should only be done every 3 to 5 years in order to give the trees time to recover effectively.

Related: Best electric pole saw pruners

When to use tar

Trees have the capacities to seal off injuries on their own by building walls of tissues around the affected parts and continuing their growth and development processes.

However, some people advocate the use of tar to seal off tree wounds and cuts. Tar products can sometimes prevent the tree’s tissues from repairing and can seal moisture, fungus, and other harmful bacteria under the tar. The result is that the tree can begin to rot and decay around this area and in some cases, it can cause the death of the tree.

The purpose of using tar to dress wounds on trees is to cover injured parts and inhibit the infestation of insects and other harmful organisms. Therefore, you should only use tar during periods where insects are abundant (spring and summer). Other products that can be used for tree dressing instead of tar include asphalt, paint, and other ppetroleum-basedproducts.

When to use a pole saw and when to use a chainsaw (branch size)

A pole pruner is a really convenient tool for tree pruning and trimming purposes. I recommended the use of a pole pruner to trim a few smaller branches, it is specifically designed for this purpose. A pole saw is also quite safe and reliable.

However, a chainsaw is more powerful and is a great option if you are cutting bigger branches that are within reach. Climbing up a tree with a chainsaw for tree pruning and trimming purposes can be quite dangerous if you are not a trained professional. For cutting larger branches high up in the tree you may want to use a power pole saw.

Cutting techniques

Pruning and trimming trees require skills and professionalism. You need to learn the basic ways of handling these projects successfully even if you are an experienced lumberjack because knowledge is power and everyone has peculiar ways of executing the job. Here are some proven techniques to learn in order to improve your skills.

Know the four cutting methods

Four basic cutting techniques necessary for you to know that will help you complete the project faster are felling, trimming, bucking, and limbing.

·       Felling

Felling is the process of cutting down a tree with a chainsaw or other tools.

·       Trimming

This is the act of cutting off the branches or limbs from a tree in order to give the environment a decent look. It is necessary to control the vegetation or foliage on the trees at least every three years.  You can also use this method to remove defective branches from a tree but the height of the branch should not be above your shoulder level if you want to use a chainsaw.  The tools needed to carry out this project successfully are handsaws, chainsaws, pruners, etc.

·       Bucking

Cutting of the wood or its branches into smaller pieces that can be used for firewood or other purposes is called bucking.

·       Limbing

Limbing could be done before felling a tree or after felling a tree. It is the process of cutting off the limbs from a tree using handsaws, pruning saws, or even chainsaws.  You may climb the tree if you are using a pruner, handsaw, and other limbing tools.

Wearing protective clothes

Before embarking on tree pruning and trimming, ensure that you put on protective clothes and accessories like ear muffs, long-sleeve shirts, closed toed shoes, long pants, hand gloves, and safety glasses. This is the first step that will guarantee safety and minimize injuries.

Cut off rotten branches or dying limbs

After wearing your protective clothes, then proceed to cut off rotten branches or dying limbs using a chainsaw. The undercut method is ideal for pruning dead branches or unwanted limbs. Place your saw under the branch and make a cut at least one third deep into the wood. Then, remove the saw and place it on top of the branch in the adjacent direction of the previous cut, which you made under the tree.

Related: Best gas powered pole saw

Safety considerations

Before pruning or trimming a tree, there are several safety considerations that will help you carry out the project successfully. Let us study some of these tips carefully.

Choose the saw-type suitable for your project

It is advisable that you choose the best type of saw, which is ideal for the project you want to handle before proceeding on how to operate it successfully. Various timber projects require different saws to handle them efficiently. For example, pruning trees need pruning saws, felling trees need chainsaws, trimming requires handsaws, and bucking needs chainsaws or other types suitable for it.

Read the instruction manual or user guide

Every product has a user guide or instruction manual that will teach you the best ways to handle the equipment. It is advisable that you study the user’s manual to know the safety instructions pertaining to the device and comply accordingly.

Run the chainsaw at full speed 

This method helps the chainsaw to run faster and reduces the chances of chain binding. Kickback issues are minimized when this safety style is adopted. Moreover, it is safer and makes trimming and felling of trees easier since the chains will be running at full speed.

Check the chain oiler

Ensure the chain oiler is working efficiently by checking it immediately when you start up the machine. You will notice a thin cushion of oil between the guide bar and chain. Overheating will occur between the two units, if you do not notice this and can damage the system extensively. Put a sheet of paper or cloth material below the chainsaw and start the engine. As this happens, you will notice a splash of oil onto the material. However, if you do not see this happen, then, clean the oil ports in the bar very well.

Related: Best hand pole saw pruner


Pruning and trimming of trees can be done with chainsaws. You can also use a pole saw pruning saws, hand pruners or loppers, and others depending on the size of the tree or shrub you want to handle. There are various seasons of the year, when it is more convenient to reduce the foliage of your garden, and have decent surroundings like summer and winter respectively.

How to Prune and Trim a Tree with a Chainsaw The Right Way

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Related: Fell a tree in the direction that you want

Comments 1

  1. Hi, Nigel! I have a generic question- what time does a tree need to recover after pruning or trimming? Does it depend on a season?

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