Boulder County Forest Health Outreach Updates – How to Correctly Prune a Tree

Forest Stewardship Tip of the Day: How to Correctly Prune a Tree Forestry Tip of the Day: Did you know that you can cause long-term damage to your trees if you prune them incorrectly? We often see landowners incorrectly prune a tree by either placing their final pruning cut too far away from the trunk of the tree (leaving a 1 to 2 inch branch stub) or cutting too close to the tree trunk (cutting into the “branch collar”).

Leaving a short branch stub can lead to long-term tree health problems decades from now. As the short stubs decay they have the potential to transport rot fungus into the center of the tree. On the other hand if you cut too close to the trunk you risk cutting into the “branch collar”. If you nick or completely remove the “branch collar” the tree will not be able to effectively heal the pruning wound which leaves the tree vulnerable to rot fungus and therefore blow-down.

Here is a publication that the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) put together to help you learn how to make the proper pruning cuts.Specifically look at p. 14-32 for visual illustrations. http://csfs.colostate.edu/pdfs/Pruning-Presentation_ECCFC-RF_2012_compressed.pdf. Here is another CSFS publication about proper pruning techniques. http://csfs.colostate.edu/pdfs/613.pdf

Why is this important??  By properly pruning your tree you help maintain the long-term health and stability of your trees. “You don’t want to cut too close or too far – make that perfect cut just outside the slightly fatter branch collar.”


Ryan Ludlow | Forestry Education & Outreach Coordinator Boulder County | Land Use DepartmentP.O. Box 471, Boulder CO 80306O:             720.564.2641       | F: 303.441.4856rludlow@bouldercounty.org | www.bouldercounty.org/ForestHealth *Please visit our website to sign-up to receive emails about forestry workshops, community meetings, bark beetle management tips and more!