Cross branches can cause a lot of damage to your tree. I recently helped a client prune multiple branches from their maple tree in Lilburn, GA. This maple tree is they’re pride and joy tree in the front yard. They had left it untouched for a long time and this can be problematic for your trees.

Damaged from cross branch

examining the damage caused by the cross branch

Cross branches are branches that grow onto one another causing friction as the wind blows and rubs them together. If left unpruned they can cause extensive damage to each other. This damage will create wounds that will get worse over time. As the branch’s cambium grows in girth they put more pressure on the limbs. This can result in cavities and even limbs to grow together. This damage can allow disease, decay or even insect infestation to occur.

Cross branches on a maple tree

here is an example of a cross branch

When pruning cross branches you want to first identify them. Look for any branches that are drooping, growing straight up, touching or resting on each other.

As you find these branches examine them for damage. Usually, there is damage to the weaker branch, but in some cases, both will be damaged. After identifying the cross branch’s, remove the damaged one or both. If neither branch has been damaged you can then choose which branch to be removed. This will allow you to remove the branch that is weaker or that won’t change the shape of the tree.


After removing all of the cross branches you can prune any other branches that are growing downward or look unsightly. This will be best left to a professional tree company. Removing branches can positively or negatively alter the shape and health of the tree. There are other pruning techniques to keep in mind as well. Never remove more than 35 percent of the branches of the trees at one time. Always prune back to the branch collar to allow your tree to heal properly.