The branch collar is the swollen area where the branch connects to the trunk. A proper pruning cut should be made just outside the branch collar and should not remove or damage the branch collar. This allows for proper closure of the wound.
To prevent tearing of bark and vascular tissue, use the three-cut approach to pruning:
Cut #1: Make a small undercut a few inches out from the branch collar
Cut #2: Remove the limb above cut #1
Cut #3: Remove the stub by cutting just outside the branch collar
Branches should be pruned at the branch collar-NOT at mid-branch. Mid-branch pruning, called tipping or topping depending on branch size, is harmful to trees, promotes the growth of weakly attached epicormic sprouts, and can lead to the death of the branch or the tree!
Sharp, clean tools make the smoothest cuts. Choose the tool based on the size of the branch. For small branches (under one inch), bypass pruners should be used. Bypass pruners have a curved cutting blade and are good for pruning tree limbs. For slightly larger cuts (up to four inches) a pruning saw may be used. Chainsaws are preferred when pruning branches over four inches and should be used only by qualified individuals.