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Limbing a pine tree with a manual pruning saw

Limbing or delimbing is the process of removing branches from a standing or fallen tree trunk.[1]

This truck known as a Delimber is used for limbing and saves time.

In logging, limbing follows felling.[2] Limbing plays a role in fire prevention by removing branches from live trees that can otherwise serve as part of a fuel ladder allowing a fire to climb from the ground into the tree canopy. A California fire prevention guide recommends to "Remove all tree branches at least 6 feet [1.8 meters] from the ground" and "Allow extra vertical space between shrubs and trees."[3]

In British English, limbing can be synonymous with snedding. Alternatively, limbing can be used to describe the operation on larger branches, and snedding on smaller.

In logging[edit]

Options for cutting off the branches include chain saws, harvesters, stroke delimbers and others. Limbing can happen at the stump in log/tree length systems and cut-to-length systems or at the landing in whole-tree logging.

Chainsaw limbing

When the tree is lying on the ground, branches may be storing enormous potential energy through mechanical strain. When a branch is cut, often with a chain saw, this energy can be released suddenly and the branch can jump dangerously. In addition, a branch may be supporting the tree, and the tree can fall or roll when the branch is cut. For these reasons, limbing is a skilled operation requiring careful safety planning.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Logging Safety: A Field Guide Archived 2019-08-04 at the Wayback Machine, Section Four: Limbing and Bucking, New York State Department of Health
  2. ^ Felling, Limbing and Bucking Trees; University of Missouri extension; by Hank Stelzer, Forestry State Specialist, School of Natural Resources
  3. ^ Maintain Defensible Space, Ready For Wildfire, CAL FIRE