How To Cut Tree Limbs With A Pole Saw: A Step-By-Step Guide To Assist You

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It’s a lazy Sunday morning, and you finally need to do the one thing that you have been procrastinating for the past few days – cut the tree limbs in your backyard. Keeping your backyard is essential in more ways than one, even if it means cutting down wines or thick branches that you cannot reach from the ground. So, what do you do in such situations, do you call in a professional and pay the big bucks, do you prune from a ladder, or do you do it by yourself using a pole saw?

The latter is definitely the most feasible and convenient option to choose. In this article, I’ll give you step-by-step assistance on how to cut tree limbs with a pole saw.

Precautions to keep in mind before you begin

Although it is easy to learn how to cut tree limbs with a pole saw, if you’re pruning wood at a decent height, there are a few precautions to take. When professionals end up dropping a large chunk of wood, they make use of ropes in a pulley system for safely slowing down the fall. On the other hand, when you’re cutting branches yourself with pole saws, you cannot exactly do that. Instead, you need to let the wood drop without any control. This is unsafe as heavy wood falling from a height can hurt, damage, or even potentially kill when it falls.

pole saw man cutting tree limbs

Here are a few precautions that you must keep in mind –

  • Never attempt to fell branches overhead until you’re familiar with the techniques to reduce weight before making the final cut by making a jump-cut with your tools
  • Pole saws, especially the ones with extensions to go above 8 feet, are pretty heavy and tiring to work with, so you must keep that in mind
  • Pole saws are intended for usage on limbs up to a few inches thick. Keep in mind that thicker wood will mean more danger involved and the entire process will be slower and more tiring 
  • Pole saws can sometimes slip, if that happens, you should stop cutting and then reposition the blade before restarting 

RELATED: Best Pole Pruner – Manual Pole Saw Review

How to cut tree limbs with pole saw?

1. Clear out the work area

The area where you’ll be standing for cutting tree limbs must be clear of people or any property that could potentially get damaged. If you’re working in a public space, you should consider barricading and securing the area to keep others from getting close.

2. Plan where to cut

Before putting your pole saw to work, you must plan out where exactly you will be cutting. Don’t start cutting anything yet, take a step back, examine the tree, and then consider the branches to cut. Move to the next step only after you’ve decided how much work has to be done.

3. Cutting tree limb best practice

It’s best to follow a proven method to cut tree limbs. Your first cut should be from below and about 1/4 diameter of the limb deep. Then, your second cut should be from the top and a bit further out until the limb breaks. Your final cut is close the trunk, so you get a perfect finish.

how to cut tree limbs with pole saw
How to cut tree limbs with a pole saw. First cut, second cut, and final cut.

4. Always start with the lower branches 

When you’re planning the cuts, you will eventually have to figure out how to access the higher branches, which is possible only after you get rid of the lower branches and limbs.

Removing the lower limbs will help you get a clear path, while also ensuring that you are able to safely make your way up to the higher regions.

5. Be in the correct position

The correct position to use a pole saw would be to stand towards the side of the branch and not below it. Being in this position will minimize your chances of injury in case a piece of wood falls out of the tree. Further, you’ll need to be sure that you hold the end of your pole saw at chest level and keep it at an angle when cutting.

6. Adjust the pole length to the right height

Once you’re in the right position, it is time to adjust the pole saw to the appropriate length. Adjust the length and then stretch out the pole saw such that the blade reaches the lowest branch when you’re holding the pole saw at chest level.

7. Start cutting the branches 

Your first few cutting strokes must be slow and controlled. Cutting the branches at full speed could result in the blade slipping out and make the entire cutting process harder. It would be smart to create a groove in the wood.

For creating grooves in the branch, you must cut slowly at first. Tap the throttle or push it in lightly, as it’ll help you create the initial groove in the wood. When making these cuts, you should be careful as the pole saw could move sideways, especially if the branch is sloped. 

8. Finish the cut

Once you have created a groove and the saw is secure, you can gradually increase your stroke speed. As the cuts go deeper, keep an eye out on the branch. Although you might be standing towards the side, the wood can still fall in unpredictable ways.

9. Clean up the area

Once you’re finished up with cutting the first branch and wooden pieces are all over the ground, it would be the smart option to move the branches out of the way before you make the next cut. Of course, you wouldn’t want to trip as you’re repositioning yourself to remove other limbs and branches.

10. Prepare yourself for the next cut

After removing the first branch, you’ll have to position yourself for the next cut and repeat the entire cycle all over again. Plan from where to start, begin with the lower branches, stand towards the side, position the pole saw at your chest height, adjust the blade and start off by making a groove cut, gradually increase the sawing speed, once the branch is cut, move it out of the way, and go back again.

How To Cut Tree Limbs With A Pole Saw


There you have it, now you’ll likely have a better idea of how to cut tree limbs with a pole saw. It is an incredibly simple process as long as you do it safely and use the right equipment. Cut the tree limbs and clear your backyard in a simple, smoother way than you could have imagined.

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Hi, I'm Mike - but my friends call me Backyard Mike. I'm the founder of this website, and I'm addicted to outdoor power tools. I love to work with wood and share my knowledge here on this website with you. You can find more about me here.