How To Fix Crossing Branches

Crossing branches have the potential to become a major problem for your tree. Quite often homeowners will have a beautiful tree in their landscape that is growing well and displays a full canopy with many branches in it. And while there’s nothing wrong with a full and thick looking tree in fact it’s ideal, the problems begin when one branch imposes on another branch. If two branches exist crossing one another blowing wind will cause them to rub together. You’ll need some quality tree trimming tools for this part of the pruning process.

Friction between two branches will wear away the outer bark and eventually create a wound on one or both branches exposing the sapwood. Once the sapwood of a tree branch is exposed, Insects, nematodes, bacteria and fungi begin to move in and take advantage of the easily accessible source of nutrients and space. Over time the invaders rot their way further and further into your tree. If one of the branches is not removed, the resulting decay will continue to spread eventually taking over (killing) one or both of the branches.

Injuries due to rubbing branches can also effect the structural integrity of your tree.  Main trunks have been known to sustain major injuries when smaller branches grow across them.  

Such injuries create a weak point in the structure of the main trunk and a heavy load above the point of injury could cause your tree to break and topple over.

How To Decide Which Branch Has To Go

When a professional tree trimmer sees two crossing branches, he/she will remove one, or at least part of one, to solve the problem. With the understanding that rubbing branches will eventually lead to bigger problems down the road. A small bit of tree repair now, will save a possible tree removal later. If you are going to do your own tree pruning, the list below will help you decide which of the two touching branches should be trimmed.

By judging the severity of the wounds on each branch, you can see which one has a better chance of survival.

If one branch is discolored, stiff, and brittle, it’s already dead and should be removed.

If one branch is significantly larger than the other (such as a major trunk), removing the smaller of the two would be an easier way to solve the problem.

If one branch is only slightly bigger than the other and your overall objective is to make your tree shorter, you may want to consider removing the larger of the two crossing branches.

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