How to prune trees

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How to prune trees

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Project Overview

Pruning can help your trees to grow strong and keep a good shape. Another reason to prune is to remove damaged branches, which allows for new growth and helps prevent viral, bacterial and fungal infections from entering the tree. We’ll show you how to prune correctly and how to avoid damaging the tree.
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Ladder safety tip

Ladders are important tools but they need to be used the right way. Falling off a ladder is responsible for more hospital visits than any other accident in the home. The safest way to use a ladder is to open the legs fully and lock the hinges in place. This ensures the ladder won’t collapse and makes it as stable as possible.

Step by Step Instructions

1 Trim smaller branches with secateurs
2 Cut medium branches with your handsaw
3 Prune hard to reach branches
4 Prune thicker branches with loppers
5 Cut thicker branches using an undercut
  • Step 1. Trim smaller branches with secateurs

    Before you start put on your safety glasses and gloves. Secateurs are like spring-loaded scissors and have a locking system to keep the blades shut while you’re not using them.

    Start by cutting off small branches near the base of the tree. You can also use the secateurs for low hanging small branches. 

  • Step 2. Cut medium branches with your handsaw

    Ideally the blade on your handsaw will be very sharp, so it’s important to work carefully. You can use a handsaw to cut any protruding or lower level branches too big for the secateurs. Cut the branch off close to the tree trunk and avoid cutting the main trunk. Make sure you cut the branch on an angle that protrudes slightly off the trunk.

  • Step 3. Prune hard to reach branches

    Use your pole pruner’s lever action to cut hard to reach branches. For thicker branches, there are attachments for the pole pruner, including a saw, that you can also be used to cut branches higher in the tree. 

  • Step 4. Prune thicker branches with loppers

    Loppers are like giant secateurs used for pruning big branches. They are designed to give you more leverage and makes it a lot easier to cut through thicker branches. 
  • Step 5. Cut thicker branches using an undercut

    Undercuts are used to remove large branches, that if you cut it from the top, the weight would snap it off. This can lead to tears in the bark and expose the tree to diseases. To undercut, start under the branch and saw upwards until you have cut halfway through. Then saw down from the top of the branch, starting about 3-5 cm up from the undercut. Keep sawing until the weight of the branch pulls it away from the tree. Tidy up the tree by cutting from the top of the remaining branch, away from the trunk, all the way through.

Tools and Materials

Tools

  • Handsaw
  • Folding pruner
  • Gloves
  • Loppers
  • Pole pruner
  • Safety glasses
  • Secateurs
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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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