Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.
How To Cut Tree Limbs That Are Too High To Reach
Trees require proper pruning in order to make them lusher and to extend their lives. And contrary to popular belief, the bigger trees actually do need to be pruned just as much as the younger ones that haven’t fully sprouted up yet. But how do you get to those higher branches?
With the right tools and safety precautions, even the tallest of branches can be pruned properly. That will give trees greater longevity and keep them from becoming unruly. You will need a ladder to climb up to the higher branches in order to cut them. You first want to cut the smaller branches from the larger branch, and then use a chainsaw to chop the larger branch off safely.
This article serves as a guide that you can follow in order to cut your tree limbs that are higher up, and hard to reach. By following the safety protocols, and having the correct tools for the job, this will ensure you do the cob the right way.
Table of Contents
When Is The Best Time To Trim?
While there is never a bad time to remove some of the diseased, damaged, or dead branches that may be on a tree, there are definitely times where it can be most beneficial to the trees themselves. Pruning during the dormant periods of the year is most beneficial for trees.
By pruning during those dormant periods, it actually fosters new growth in the trees when the weather starts to turn warmer. It is also a good idea to time trimming to low sap and resin flow. If you have a tree that exudes resin, note during which season the flow is at its least.
By pruning during high flow, it can not only put the tree at risk but make the entire thing a higher risk for pests. Therefore, it’s important that you track the flow of the resin of your tree so that you know the best time to trim.
The Tools For The Job
Like any other task, it is important to have the necessary tools. Using makeshift tools or simply trying to do the task without them will usually end in disappointment at the very best and injury at the worst. Put yourself in a more favorable position by having the right tools.
A ladder is a must. This can vary depending on just how high the branches are. You will also need a hand-held pruner that can remove smaller branches that stand in the way of the larger ones. A pole pruner makes for a great tool as it can not only get further up the tree, but it can knock down branches of varying heights.
If the pole pruner isn’t fit for the job, a lopper is more likely needed. Loppers are bigger than the hand-held pruner and can cut down branches of slightly larger than average size. But for the biggest branches, a rope saw is needed. This can be tossed to the branches that need cutting instead of having to climb to that height.
Step 1: Take Time To Set Up Your Ladder
The first and perhaps most important step is to place your ladder in a way that ensures the most stability. Maybe people don’t take the proper precautions here and it can be extremely dangerous, even fatal. A good tip here is to nail in the ladder to secure it to the tree. If this isn’t possible, have someone steady the base.
The idea is to give yourself as secure a base as possible so that the risk of falling is greatly reduced. You should always make sure that your ladder is sitting on level ground. If you don’t have level ground, make sure you have a ladder that can accommodate the type of terrain you need to use it on.
Step 2: Start Small
When the ladder has been properly secured, it is time to start the trek up. On your way, you will no doubt begin to encounter some smaller branches. Make sure that you remove them slowly and effectively as they can hinder your movement upwards.
Be careful when making these cuts as some of the smaller branches will be less secure and can fall on you. This may not be enough to hurt you, but it could startle, and that jostling can be enough to send a person crashing to the ground.
Step 3: Go Bigger
The idea behind trimming tall trees is to make things as simple as possible. Having to maneuver through different tree branch lengths can feel like a pain but going in order of size can not only be easier but clear the path to the truly large branches.
No matter what size of the branch that you cut, it is important to make sure that they do not fall on you. Even if they aren’t big enough to hurt you, they can cause a fall and that will almost definitely wind up causing injury.
Clearing the path is the best way to access the larger branches on the tree in a safer, more secure manner. Trying to navigate through other branches can be dangerous even though it may theoretically be quicker to go straight for the larger ones.
Step 4: The Final Cut
Now that the path is clear, it is time for the most crucial stage of the game. The tree will be lighter and easier to navigate, but it can still be dangerous given the height as well as the potential weight of the larger branches.
Here is where the rope saw, or pole pruner would be most beneficial. Ensure that there are at least six inches between the cut and the joint of the branch to the tree. Those six inches minimize the potential for injury to you or infection to the tree.
Always cut slowly so that you can give yourself a chance to anticipate where the branch may fall. If you are working with others, let them know when the branch is almost fully detached so that they have ample time to get a safe distance away.
Don’t Cut Too Short
It might seem like cutting the branches all the way to the trunk is ideal, but it’s actually quite bad. Cutting too short creates scar tissue in the tree and makes it difficult to heal. When this happens, these wounds can develop into holes that eventually deteriorate the tree.
You can also cut the trunk itself if it’s too high and you’re wanting to remove the branches at the top. However, before doing this, you need to remove all the branches, and then cut the top off. Yet, you should not take too much length off as this can also kill the tree. It’s a good idea to cut no more than two feet off the top.
Don’t Leave The Branches Too Long
If you leave the tree branch too long, you can almost guarantee that rot will take place. This will start in the stub of the branch and eventually work its way into the tree itself. If rot is a major issue in one of the trees, cut it down entirely.
Rot can take as little as 2 years to fully destroy a tree, compromising the structural integrity to the point that it will not safely stand and anything in the area should be evacuated to prevent injury or damage. So, for the trees that are towering, and almost bending at the top, you’ll want to cut at least a couple of feet off of the top.
There’s almost an art to cutting branches. You need to find the sweet spot when taking down the top of any tree. Don’t cut the branches, or the trunk too short, but also, don’t leave the branches too long as this can end up causing a problem. Also, you should always try to balance the top of the tree. If you cut 30 pounds of branches from one side, you’ll want to do the same with the other.
Cutting Down the Tree
There may come a time where you want to simply get rid of the tree. This can be for aesthetic reasons or it can be due to rot or disease in the tree. Whatever the reason, hiring a professional to cut it down can wind up being costly.
Doing it yourself, however, has a lot of potentials to be dangerous. Taking the proper precautions and doing things right is the key to not only doing the job well but doing it safely.
Buy some felling wedges. These will keep the tree from pinching you in the gap created while cutting. Not only that, but felling wedges also help to prevent unexpected falling from taking place. This is what happens in those videos you see where a tree falls on a house.
The key to cutting down a tree safely is to do it slowly and carefully. Rushing through the job will lead to issues and those issues almost always wind up costing more money and time than doing the job right would have.
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