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How to cut branches before a storm

When a storm is a brewin, take the right steps to reduce damage to trees – and therefore to your home, farm and family – from dangerous falling branches. Cutting your branches can seem like a big job, but it is much cheaper and time-consuming than repairing damage after the rainfall and wind have passed.

Search for risk factors

Start by identifying potential risk areas.

Signs of Rattan

Rattan trees and branches are one of the biggest things to look out for when trimming before a storm. Dead or dying branches or trees are much more likely to fall during a storm. Signs of rot include dead leaves, leaning luggage space, bare branches on one side, vertical cracks or seams, small branches sprouting from the base, or smooth areas on the tree where the bark has fallen off and has not been renewed.

Number of branches

Trees with abundance of branches risk losing most during a storm, causing a large number of injuries.

New trees

Trees that have been planted and grow in a space for less than five years are more likely to have falling branches during times of need. This is because the roots of the tree have not had much time to grow deeper and get better grip in the ground.

Assemble the right tool

 mower cutting tree

Pruning shears up to one inch in diameter. Bypass pruning shears are ideal for moving small, living branches and can handle uncomfortable angles with ease.


For branches that are slightly larger – up to two inches in diameter – chips are ideal. These have a longer handle and a more stable blade than pruning shears and can be found in cleaning or bypass options. Cancerous coils can eventually damage living branches, so to cut in front of a storm, go with the bypass option instead.

Pole Pruners

Pole cutters with bypass blades and pruning saws are the best option for reaching deadwood in trimming processing. These extend 10 to 15 feet and can handle branches that are two inches thick and slightly larger.

How to Trim Branches

Eradicate Rotting Branches

The first priority in preventive pruning should be to get rid of all branches showing signs of rotting, as described above. These will be the first to fall and break during a storm.

Encouraging the Right Angles

Encouraging the right angles for tree branches helps eliminate the chance that they will fall and create a healthier tree overall. Branches should ideally grow at a 30 to 45 degree angle. A useful visual guide is that the strongest branch angles should be at 10 and 2 o'clock. Those who are far from the ideal area should be removed or trimmed as much as possible.

  trees with cut branches

Get rid of large branches

Branches that are too large in diameter and that are easily supported by the trunk should be removed during this trimming process. Those more than 50 to 75 percent of the trunk's diameter run the risk of falling under high winds.

Removing rubbing branches

Branches that are merged and rubbing each other should be trimmed down or removed completely during this process. Areas that are too cramped are sensitive to problems during storms. In addition, branches that rub together wounds that lead to decay, which weakens them.

Remove sprouts

"Sprouts" are branches that are temporary, grow quickly and easily break. Because they are so weakly knotted, they will probably fall under a storm. Fortunately, they are also easy to trim.

Discard trimmed branches

Tree trimming can be discarded in a number of ways after you complete this process. One way, if possible, is to cut them up and leave them in the woods near your property. Another alternative is to add them to a compost pile which gives them a life of productive organic matter.

If your property has little space for a branch mound, this is also a great way to reuse your old branches – birds love to jump around between them and look for yummy bugs where they can feel safe from predators.

If these options do not appeal, most cities will pick up this garbage when sacked and stored properly.

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