Pruning large branches (those more than 3 or so inches across) can be accomplished safely and in a way that doesn't invite disease with a little preparation and a good project strategy. A little advance know-how will prevent both human injury and tree disease.
You want to prevent the bark from ripping, creating an open wound on the tree. And you also want to prevent the branch from falling out of control, hitting you or nearby landscaping. If you're in doubt about your ability to control the branch, don't risk it. Hire a certified specialist.
Make the first cut, which prevents the bark from tearing when the branch comes off. Make a cut a few inches deep on the underside of the branch several inches away from the main trunk. Make all cuts so the saw moves away from you.
Make a second cut on the top of the branch, an inch or less out from the first cut. Cut all the way through or until the branch falls away.
Make the final cut. Remove the stub you've just created, but don't cut exactly flush with the trunk. The cut should slope slightly outwards to create a collar, which heals better. There's no need to apply any wound dressings. Research has found trees heal as well or better without them.
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