Does cutting off dead branches help a tree?

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Pruning trees, or the process of removing dead branches and stems through cutting, is normal and absolutely necessary when tree-keeping. If not pruned properly, your tree may be sick and infected with insects and diseases, it can be an eyesore in your lawn, and can fall off and cause unfortunate accidents and injury.

Cutting off dead branches will definitely help your tree. 

When a tree is regularly cut and maintained, it will grow even more fruits, leaves, flowers and be generally healthier, not to mention that it will be much nicer to look at.

If you see dead branches in your tree, you can always cut these branches and stems yourself or hire an arborist or tree doctor to do it. However, before getting rid of these branches, it is also important for you to know why your tree has them, if you really need to cut it immediately, and the tools you need in order to save your tree and not compromise its wellbeing.

Why does my tree have dead branches?

When your tree is already mature, it is perfectly normal to have dead branches (especially the inner ones). Trees are living things after all, and over time will get sick and decline due to age.

There are also other reasons why your tree has dead branches that are not related to its age, some of these are:

  • Harsh weather conditions

Trees can be stressed when experiencing extreme temperatures. Some places can be freezing or scalding, causing damage to trees, especially their roots. This will result in damaged and dead branches. Other harsh weather conditions such as frequent storms and floods can also be detrimental to a tree’s health.

  • Damage caused by insects

Wood-boring insects such as moths, beetles, and maggots can bring damage and harm to a tree’s stem and roots by laying eggs that when matured, goes to dig and feed on the tree’s tissues. These harmful insects cause the tree to be deprived of its highly needed nutrients and if not treated, will eventually result in it to thin out and die. 

  • Infections

Trees, like people, can get infected with a disease. One of the most common diseases that trees suffer from is fungi, which can be easy to be aware of and diagnose because it can be observed using our naked eye. Some kinds of disease that affect living trees are Cedar Rusts, Apple Scab, and Anthracnose. 

  • Insufficient resources 

Trees have their basic needs such as soil, sunlight, water, and space. They also need a lot of nutrients and other elements like iron, nitrogen, potassium in just the right amount for it to grow and be healthy. Too little and too much of these necessary substances will damage the tree or hinder its growth, making it thin and sickly. 

  • The tree is in its dormant period

When a tree is in its dormant period, such as the winter season, it temporarily shuts off some of its functions to conserve its energy. As a result, the branches may look dead because of the absence of the leaves. This is normal and unavoidable as the tree is just “hibernating.” However, when the season ends, spring will come and the tree will regrow its leaves and branches again.

When should I cut a dead tree branch?






There is not really a right or wrong time to cut a dead tree branch, but you can do it based on your preference and need. Some prefer to do it when their trees are dormant in the winter to reduce the chance of infection to the trees when cutting. Most people make sure to especially do it before hurricane season because of the increased possibility of branches falling, damaging property, or hurting people when there is a presence of strong wind and rain.

What are the best tools to cut tree branches?

There are many tools available in the market to be considered when you are planning on what to buy. You might be looking for a cheap alternative as the ones that are most commonly used by tree experts are sometimes too expensive. 

Before deciding on which one you should get, it’s best to know more about the different kinds of tools and what would work best for your need. You wouldn’t want to buy an expensive pruner tool meant for heavy use when all you need is to cut small dead branches that a simple and basic pruning shear can handle.

Here are the best tools you can use for a specific function:

When you need to cut small branches,

Pruning Shears would get the job done. Cutting small branches, twigs, and stems are considered “light duty pruning work” and using these handy shears can be easy when attempting to do it yourself and can always be used by a beginner conveniently. 

When you need to cut larger branches,

Lopping Shears would be the best choice as they have bigger handles and are stronger than pruning shears. The scissoring blades are highly recommended for loppers as they produce a cleaner cut.

When you need to cut taller branches,

choose a Pole Saw or Pole Pruner. These tools may have or use a rope that can reach higher branches when it is of a taller height, although it is sometimes heavier, less accurate, and more difficult for beginners to handle. 

When you need to cut branches that are big in diameter,

Chainsaw will be your best option as it can cut through bigger branches and even trunks, however, it is absolutely not recommended for beginner use. Chainsaws can be extremely difficult to handle and it is important that only those who are trained and experienced may use them.

Whatever tool you decide to use, make sure that it is extremely sharp and sterilized. Trees can be infected if they are cut incorrectly and especially when using dirty tools. 

In conclusion, 

Cutting off the dead branches in your tree can be very beneficial. It is up to you to decide if you want to cut them yourself or have a professional do it, but don’t forget to put your safety as your first priority. Having an arborist or tree doctor do the pruning can not only be the best choice for your safety but also for the health of your tree.