What to know before you pick up that saw

Thursday, March 18, 2010; VA07

Replacing a broken trunk

-- If the trunk is broken, remove it just above an upper branch.

-- After two or three years, the side branch will grow upward and form a new leader.

Correct cutting method

-- A final branch cut should be made just outside the flare or collar at the base of the broken branch, not flush with the trunk.

-- Over several years, the wound will close over the cut to form a near invisible fix.

-- Wound dressings may trap disease and are no longer recommended.

Location of cut (above or below broken wood)

-- If a splinter, tear or crack ends above a branch union, you can prune out the broken stem in a way that keeps the side branch.

-- If the damage extends to the branch or below, you will have to make the cut at a lower branch.

Three-cut method

-- On heavy limbs that are to be removed, you must follow a sequence of cuts to prevent the falling branch from ripping the bark off the trunk.

-- First use your pruning saw to make a deep undercut about 12 inches from the trunk.

-- Next, remove the broken branch by making a cut outside the undercut.

-- Finally, make the correct finished cut.

Repair splayed evergreen (arborvitae)

-- Gather snow-bent evergreens back into shape using two or three rings of twine wrapped around the outside.

-- Trim branches that continue to grow out.

-- Remove the twine in early summer after the spring growth.

Note: Tree work is inherently dangerous, and if a job needs a ladder you probably need a certified arborist to do the work for you. You must also keep ladders and tools away from overhead power lines. Bent trunks and large branches may be under tension and can release dangerous forces when you cut through them. Professionals first apply a series of small cuts on the top and bottom of the bow to help relieve the energy.

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