How to Safely Cut Tree Limbs Hanging Over a House

When a tree branch starts growing just a bit too far over your house, you might be in trouble. While we’re big fans of what a tree can do for your landscape, heavy branches and vulnerable roofs are not a combination that leads anywhere good. If you find yourself with a precarious branch threatening your eaves, it’s best to take it down before it does any damage.

While most people might not know how to cut tree limbs over a house, the process is relatively straightforward. As professionals with decades of experience in the industry, Mr. Tree has certainly trimmed its fair share of branches. Here’s a handy crash course on how to cut tree limbs over your house.

Get Your Hands on the Proper Equipment

Before you start thinking about how to cut tree limbs over your house, be certain you have the proper equipment on hand. First off, you’ll need a good, sturdy ladder that can let you easily reach the offending limbs. Next, you’ll need something to actually make the cut with. A hand saw, bow saw, or pruning saw can do the job, but using a motor-operated chainsaw will certainly save you some elbow grease. Moreover, you can find a variety of chainsaws on

Finally, you’ll need a strong set of ropes in order to control the fall of the branches. On top of all of that, be sure to put on all the proper safety equipment before beginning your work. Work gloves and goggles will go a long way toward protecting you, so don’t neglect them.

Find Some Help for the Job

One of the most important things when it comes to how to cut tree limbs over a house is not to do it alone. With someone assisting you, you’ll have another set of eyes looking out for any potential danger. You’ll also need help from someone on the ground to guide the limbs in the right direction as they fall. With the right help, cutting the limbs can go from a risky task to something much more manageable.

Survey the Site for Any Potential Risks

Before you climb up on your ladder, take stock of the area you’ll be working in. When you’re bringing down tree branches, there’s always the risk of incurring unwanted property damage. Look around for anything that might end up in the path of falling branches, determining how you can best guide them in a direction that will allow them to fall safely without destroying anything on the way down. Powerlines, your roof, and even yard features can sustain heavy damage from a wayward branch, so know where you don’t want it to fall before you make the first cut.

Identify the Branch Collar

When it comes to how to cut tree limbs over your house, it’s all about making strategic cuts in order to use the weight of the branch to your advantage. To this end, you’ll need to identify the branch collar. The branch collar is the point of divergence of the branch from the trunk of the tree, like a kind of joint. It’s here where you’ll ultimately separate the branch from the rest of the tree, but don’t get to cutting quite yet. There is still one more important thing to do before you can bring the branch down.

Secure the Branch to Control Its Fall

Tightly tie the rope you have on hand around the branch. This will allow your help on the ground to exert some degree of control over it as it falls, pulling it in a safe direction away from anything or anyone that might get hurt. You need to choose a place far enough away from the branch shoulder that their pulling will effectively direct the falling limb but close enough that they don’t need to exert too much force to do it. Find a good spot a few feet away from the branch collar then secure the rope with a firm series of knots. With the rope in place, it’s time to finally break out the saw.

Trim Carefully, One Manageable Piece at a Time

When it comes to cutting tree limbs over a house, slow and steady is the name of the game. Set up your ladder and start cutting away small, manageable pieces of the branch, working your way from the end of the branch toward the trunk. These shouldn’t be too large, nothing you can’t safely hold and discard with one hand. Continue cutting, whittling away pieces of the branch until either the branch is too thick or you’re getting close to where your rope is secured. By this point, you should have removed enough of the branch to help minimize the danger it poses when it falls. Now you’re ready to cut the branch away in its entirety.

Make the Final Cut

First, cut a small notch in the top of the branch roughly two feet away from the trunk. It doesn’t need to go too deep, only about a quarter of the way through the branch. This is your notch cut, which will help keep the bark from splitting when the branch falls.

Next, make a similarly deep cut on the underside of the branch about a foot closer to the trunk from your notch cut. This is the relief cut, which will help make the final cut easier and prevent you from damaging the trunk as the branch falls.

Finally, you’re ready to make your final cut. Start at the bump where the trunk meets the branch, then cut along the angle of the branch collar. Take it easy, with your helper guiding the branch toward where you want it to fall, and cut the limb away from the tree.

If that still seems like too much of an ordeal to you, don’t fret! When it comes to cutting away a dangerous branch, sometimes you need a professional. If you need help, or even just more guidance, feel free to get in touch. We’re happy to help keep both your home and trees secure.