How to Prune
A cut when properly made should be done at an angle away from the remaining branch or trunk. The bark around the cut should be intact and should not have any tears. The cut should never run along the tree's trunk. This is called a flush cut and it can promote disease in your tree.

Remaining branches should not be cut flatly across the limb leaving stubs, this is called topping and it will promote undesirable and weak growths with a high potential for becoming projectiles in a storm.

Pruning methods affect the structure of a tree and are directly related to how the tree responds to the winds of a hurricane or a severe storm. All efforts must be made to maintain a tree structural integrity and to prevent for trees to become projectiles.

There are 2 types of pruning methods: those that promote desirable tree growths and those that promote hazardous conditions. Desirable methods include cleaning, thinning, raising, and reducing. Undesirable methods include topping, excessive lifting, and lion-tailing.
Animation of where to prune a tree
Before and After image of pruning a tree
Visualizing Outcomes
The first step in pruning is to stand back and look at the tree to be pruned. Try to imagine what it will look like when it is going to be larger, and remember that tree limbs will increase in diameter and lengthen but will not move upward on the trunk as the tree grows.

Proper Pruning Cuts
Pruning cuts should be made just outside the branch collar. The branch collar is an extension of the main stem of the tree where the branch joins the main trunk. The branch collar contains trunk tissue that will eventually cover the cut and should not be damaged or removed. Cutting into the branch collar will induce decay to expand into the main trunk of the tree.
Proper Pruning Principles
Please reference the Proper Pruning Principles Diagram:
  • First Cut Notch A
  • Second Cut Along Line A-B
  • Third Cut Along Line C-D
  • Do Not Cut Along C-X
Proper Pruning Principles Graphic