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Old 10-06-2017, 05:10 AM   #1
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Trimming very high and small branches


I'm looking to trim some very high and small branches, and was wondering about other people's thoughts and experiences.

First the setup. I recently got a house that's up on a quite-high hill, and has a long rectangular lot, with quite a downslope in the back - it goes down about 120' in elevation over the course of about 600' of distance. The backyard is fairly deep (200' or so), and the rest is mostly wooded. I have a "window" through the trees that has a great view; this window is mostly thanks to a professional tree trimmer who took down a few trees and also climbed and cut some large limbs.

What I'm looking to do is to trim some small limbs that very high up, in order to improve and maintain my viewing window. These are limbs that he couldn't get to - they were too far out for him to reach when climbing, and too high up to reach with a pole trimmer. One option was to have him simply take down the trees - however I really would like to avoid that; some of these are really gorgeous trees, and I don't want to take down more than I have to.

These branches are generally small - about 1" diameter or less. And most of them are quite high - like about 60' or so. I can get up about 40' with a pole trimmer, but not 60'.

Last part of setup is these three points - very important:
1. I'm an engineer
2. I'm cheap
3. I do care about safety here

To that last point - I'm really wanting to avoid climbing any trees, and wanting to avoid ladders too if possible. Thus I'm most likely looking to come up with some really tall contraption to use from the ground - e.g. something that most likely would include a lopper. And I will be using a hardhat.

Next post - pics...
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Old 10-06-2017, 05:12 AM   #2
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Re: Trimming very high and small branches


Here's a pic of the view, and examples of what I'm looking to trim.



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Old 10-06-2017, 05:18 AM   #3
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Re: Trimming very high and small branches


Would a pole saw fit the bill?
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Old 10-06-2017, 05:23 AM   #4
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Re: Trimming very high and small branches


Lastly - some thoughts on possibilities:

1. Drone, with laser - ideal, but technology just not there yet.
2. Rifle - Not really safe for the neighbors. (Shotgun actually wouldn't be too bad, but still perhaps about half too rednecky)
3. Pole trimmer with big wooden rig - A bit more realistic, and not outside the realm of possibility. Probably too much of a hassle though.
4. Pole trimmer with extensions and guy wires - This is more what I'm leaning towards at this point, but still not sure.
5. Climbing tree stand - Also a possibility, however I think is limited with regards to trunk size, and also can't deal with forks.


For the #4 thing - a standard pole trimmer can get up to about 40' (with a good ladder), but then starts to get unwieldy beyond that - it's too heavy and bends, and would break if it was any longer, due to sideways force of gravity if it's not perfectly vertical. However guy wires would secure the top so that it doesn't fall over. I would then use something like a pulley with ropes to pull up a lopper (probably a pole trimmer), and use additional rope to guide it and to pull the lopping handle. Would be tricky, but I think feasible.

One other piece of setup I forgot to mention - ideally I'd like to be able to do this as a one-man job.
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Old 10-06-2017, 05:26 AM   #5
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Re: Trimming very high and small branches


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Originally Posted by mark sr View Post
Would a pole saw fit the bill?
You mean like one of the ones with electric chain saw? (e.g. Ryobi ONE+)

Problem is the height. Most of those are only about 10' max, and thus I could only get up 20-30', even with a good ladder*. What I'm wanting to reach though is about 60' up.

Or did you have something else in mind?

(* I'm hoping to avoid ladder and do something from the ground)

Last edited by WolfStock; 10-06-2017 at 05:27 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old 10-06-2017, 06:11 AM   #6
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Re: Trimming very high and small branches


I don't believe you can do any trimming 60' high while standing on the ground. Somehow I missed the 60' reference earlier.
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Old 10-06-2017, 06:27 AM   #7
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Re: Trimming very high and small branches


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I don't believe you can do any trimming 60' high while standing on the ground. Somehow I missed the 60' reference earlier.
I'm a persistent guy, and creative, so we'll see.

(no there will not be beer involved)
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Old 10-06-2017, 06:32 AM   #8
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Re: Trimming very high and small branches


I have an arborist trim our high branches. He climbs up with a rope. Knows which branches to cut to thin without killing the tree, and it is not very expensive. Based on the heights and needs you are referring to you may want to consider a pro.

If you give that one big tree a "haircut" your view will be blocked the next year with a bunch of fast growing suckers
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Old 10-06-2017, 06:48 AM   #9
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Re: Trimming very high and small branches


In some instances, regrowth can cause more problems within one year than you originally had with the view. A tree specialist at your county extension service may be able to advise you on this subject knowing the species of tree.

If you elect to cut the tree(s) down have a plan to replant a lower growing suitable soil stabilizing plant(s) in advance. Nature put those trees there to prevent erosion.
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Old 10-06-2017, 09:06 AM   #10
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Re: Trimming very high and small branches


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In some instances, regrowth can cause more problems within one year than you originally had with the view. A tree specialist at your county extension service may be able to advise you on this subject knowing the species of tree.

If you elect to cut the tree(s) down have a plan to replant a lower growing suitable soil stabilizing plant(s) in advance. Nature put those trees there to prevent erosion.
Indeed - yeah I'm not thinking of doing near that amount of hacking back. If it requires too much hacking I'll just take it down, since that would ruin the tree anyhow.

These are pretty much all oaks, either red oak or white oak, with a chestnut oak or two thrown in; I've done enough tree trimming to know to be judicious (too much can kill an oak).

Fortunately there are already a fair amount of smaller trees there as undergrowth (including some elms), that will be holding the soil to prevent erosion and provide some forest renewal. Long-term my plan is to try to maintain a lower canopy in this area; though I know that gets tougher over time without having to cut some down occasionally.
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Old 10-06-2017, 09:12 AM   #11
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Re: Trimming very high and small branches


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Originally Posted by ZTMAN View Post
I have an arborist trim our high branches. He climbs up with a rope. Knows which branches to cut to thin without killing the tree, and it is not very expensive. Based on the heights and needs you are referring to you may want to consider a pro.

If you give that one big tree a "haircut" your view will be blocked the next year with a bunch of fast growing suckers
If you don't mind me asking - about how much do you pay for that, and how much does he do? (how many trees / hours of work etc)

I'm guessing for what I need I'd be looking at somewhere between $500-1k. As this would be an ongoing (probably annual) thing, I'm hoping to avoid spending that much each time, and DIY it.

(See my post above re: fast-growing suckers)

Last edited by WolfStock; 10-06-2017 at 09:13 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old 10-06-2017, 09:31 AM   #12
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Re: Trimming very high and small branches


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Originally Posted by WolfStock View Post
If you don't mind me asking - about how much do you pay for that, and how much does he do? (how many trees / hours of work etc)

I'm guessing for what I need I'd be looking at somewhere between $500-1k. As this would be an ongoing (probably annual) thing, I'm hoping to avoid spending that much each time, and DIY it.

(See my post above re: fast-growing suckers)
Last time I had the trees thinned, it was $500. Was for six trees, about 40 foot high. Took him about two hours. I was going to do it myself, and I am glad I didn't because I would have removed a lot more than he did. He said that would have killed the trees.

My guess is they price by the hour, but they give a lump sum bid. Any good tree trimmer company will have an arborist and you can call for an estimate. If your trees are oaks, I would not want someone hacking away without knowing what they were doing.
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Old 10-06-2017, 09:56 AM   #13
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Re: Trimming very high and small branches


BTW, #1 and #2 at the start are the same .

A couple of thoughts not mentioned.
1. A path and pad area where a rented boom could be positioned to take YOU up most of the way and allow you to reach the rest with a pole.

2. A cable from the house area to a tall sturdy tree that would allow you to 'cable car style' slide in close and do the trimming with that pole.

3. Ropes and climbing gear could take you up vertically.

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Old 10-06-2017, 10:08 AM   #14
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Re: Trimming very high and small branches


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Originally Posted by Bud9051 View Post
BTW, #1 and #2 at the start are the same .

A couple of thoughts not mentioned.
1. A path and pad area where a rented boom could be positioned to take YOU up most of the way and allow you to reach the rest with a pole.

2. A cable from the house area to a tall sturdy tree that would allow you to 'cable car style' slide in close and do the trimming with that pole.

3. Ropes and climbing gear could take you up vertically.

Bud
Elegant but nah - there isn't really just one area that needs trimming - it's all around, so a single cable or even two or three wouldn't do the trick. And as I say I'm hoping to avoid climbing, mainly for the risk factor, but also because some of these limbs are so far out that I wouldn't be able to get close enough. Even the professional guy wouldn't do some of them, since he would have had to have gone out on some fairly thin limbs.

I looked into the rented boom thing - we're talking $700 or so just from the start for the boom rental. Also I probably wouldn't be able to use it in this area without a *lot* of difficulty, since it's quite sloped and also mostly forested.
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Old 10-06-2017, 10:10 AM   #15
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Re: Trimming very high and small branches


Thanks for all the suggestions and advice BTW folks. It's appreciated.

I'm going to do a more thorough survey of the trees this weekend, to see about feasibility of different solutions.

I'll post results when done (even if I do end up hiring someone).
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