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The Best Way to Safely Trim Tall Trees

Tree Surgeon on Ladder

Tall trees on your property are a beautiful source of shade, privacy and wind protection. Not only that, they improve the value of your home and serve as a kind of status symbol. Large, old trees on a property are a sure sign of prosperity. Having trees, however, also requires a good deal of maintenance and care, and the larger the trees, the more difficult that care will be.

While many tasks involved in your landscaping can be undertaken yourself, the trimming of larger trees should be left to a professional tree trimming service. Cutting away dead wood, and the pruning of branches on a taller tree will involve climbing into the tree, which can be dangerous if not performed by a trained professional.

The dangers of climbing a tree

Accessing the branches of a tree to trim is considerably more difficult than it sounds. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as laying a ladder alongside the tree and just going straight up. The person doing the trimming will need to bring specialized equipment with them; tools such as pruning shears, and even a chainsaw for the larger branches. Once in the tree, they will need to figure out what the most secure position for themselves is so that they are not at risk for falling. Then they will need to make careful cuts – taking care not to harm the tree in the process – and ensure that the falling branches will not pose a risk to the property or to anyone’s safety. Since this is a multi-step process that requires such specialized equipment and training, it is not recommended to try it yourself.

Safely climbing a tall tree

Some tree-trimming companies make use of spurs (also called climbing gaffs) to access the tops of trees. These are metal spikes that attach to a tree workers leg and assist them in climbing up and down. While this may be alright if you are climbing a tree that you are preparing to cut down, it is not a safe practice for trees that are only being trimmed. Every time the worker takes a step to climb, they will leave a gash through the bark of the tree; this is an open wound that can cause areas of the tree to die. Cuts in the side of the tree can also leave a convenient opening for harmful insects and diseases, caused by bacteria or parasitic fungus, to enter. Climbing spurs can cause perfectly healthy trees to become sick or even die. Not only that, they are dangerous to the user as well. Trying to hang onto the trunk of a tree using spikes alone is unstable and can cause people to fall.

Why do companies use climbing spurs?

Since they harm the tree, you may be wondering why companies still make use of climbing spurs. The fact is that there are many better alternatives; climbing ropes and harnesses or aerial lifts are a much safer way to get into a tall tree. However, these harnesses and lifts require special training and certification to use. Therefore, in an effort to cut costs, some tree services will make use of spikes to avoid paying for the equipment and the training of their workers. While this may be cheaper in the short term, you can ultimately end up paying a lot more to save a tree that has become sick due to the use of climbing spurs.

Choosing a tree service professional

As trees do a great deal to improve the value of your home, it is in your best financial interest to ensure that your tree receives the best of care. Often, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Tree services on the lowest end of the cost spectrum may be inexperienced or lack the proper certifications. They may fail to recognize the best ways to trim and care for your tree. You also want to keep an eye out for scams, which abound in this industry. There are a number of less-than-reputable businesses in the tree service industry and you will have to be diligent if you want to avoid them.

Questions to ask

There are a few questions you should always ask your tree service professional. Do they use climbing spurs when pruning healthy trees? The answer should be no. You will also want to make sure they have up-to-date insurance and the proper certifications and training to safely trim trees. While the lowest cost option for a tree service professional is not usually the best choice, the highest cost usually isn’t either as scam artists may also attempt to overcharge. Ask around for recommendations from friends, neighbors and other former customers of the tree service. Speak with the professionals themselves as well; ask what steps they will take to ensure the health and safety of your tree. In Oregon, Mr. Tree is a tree service that will care for your trees while also taking care of your safety and minimizing environmental impact. Use them to evaluate and safely trim your trees to ensure that your trees are healthy for many years to come.