How to Safely Prune a Tree

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It takes skill to prune a tree.  Every year some homeowner is injured or killed because they think taking down a tree is easy or wants to save money.  It is mandatory to be a skilled tree care profession and has the proper tools and safety techniques to do the job.

Chainsaws, saddles clips, special ropes, wedges and other equipment, are tools needed to do a good job.  You also need to have the skill to use each piece of equipment properly.

When a knowledgeable tree care work does his or her job, it looks so easy.  This is because they are trained and have years of experience on the job.  So, like they say on, “TV. Please don’t try this at home!”

Pruning a tree can be complicated and there are things that must be considered, for your safety and the safety of the property around you. Unless you are a trained and tree care worker, you should not attempt to take down a tree yourself.    Believe me, it is quite a task, but a professional will make it appear to be easy.


Caution: Do not try this unless you are an experienced tree care professional!

Equipment Used to Prune a Tree

Other than skill, the most important part of removing a tree is having the proper equipment. Having the right equipment will make the difference between getting the job done correctly and losing the job because your saws keep breaking down.

It is also important to maintain your equipment.  After each job, you need to blow out your chainsaws. This will assure they are ready for the next job and they work properly and last longer.

Checking Your Ropes

Check your ropes often for snags and tears. You ropes are your lifeline and you want to make sure they don’t snap while you are in a tree. A broken rope can cause property damage to a client’s property and even worse, you get hurt or killed. It is also important to know the rules set by OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) and to follow safety precautions at all times.
Here is a list of equipment you will need:

  • Spikes
  • Saddle
  • Helmet
  • Gloves
  • Ear protection
  • Bull rope
  • Chain saws
  • Climbing rope
  • Throwing ball & line

 What Each Tool Does

A throwing line:  Used to place mark the spot where you climbing rope will go. Once the line is in the tree, you can attach your rope to it, and pull it through the tree branch that you will climb to

A climbing rope:  Used to climb a tree. You can free style climb or spike up the tree using the rope as support.
A bull rope: Used to tie around a tree to support a large section of a tree that must be carefully lowered to the ground. This method is used when the tree being removed is close to a home or power line.

A saddle:  Used to support the climber, tie into a tree and attached needed clips and other equipment needed while in a tree.

Spikes:  Straps with sharp metal spikes, which a climber will use to pierce the tree for support as you climb a tree.

Chain saws:  Used to cut the tree. A climbing saw weights less and is used while up the tree. A logging saw is used to get through larger pieces of the tree.

Job Preparation for Pruning a Tree

Before starting the job check all your equipment to ensure it is working properly. Check ropes for frays or tears as well. Never start a job with a dull chain as this will make you less effective and the job will take longer. Make sure the chainsaws are idling and oiling properly.

Stripping a Tree

Locate the place where you want to place your rope and throw your throwing ball through the main bough of the tree.

  • Attach your climbing rope to your line and pull the rope through the tree. You now have a line from the ground to the tree, and you are ready to climb.
  • Wearing your saddle and spikes climb to the location you have marked out.
  • As you climb, remove branches of the tree, which is called stripping the tree.
  • Make sure you leave stubs that you will use as climbing support later.
  • Once the tree is stripped, you are free to chunk down large pieces of the tree as you move down the tree.
  • Cut the stump down as low as possible, or as the client requests.

Men on the Ground

Never do tree work alone.  If you have a problem, there is no one available to help you.  Someone on the ground should keep a watch to make sure the ropes don’t get tangled.  Your ground crew (one or more people)  should keep the area under the tree clear and cut up wood and brush, while the climber is working above.

One thought on “How to Safely Prune a Tree

  1. I feel like home owners shouldn’t be allowed to handle their own tree maintenance unless they have experience. A lot of people don’t see the danger involved with any type of work on trees, from trimming, to cutting and removing. But wait, there’s more… you also have to remove the debris and eliminate the stump. I know because the work we do is tough and requires experience and a team. I just worry sometimes when I hear that my client actually tried doing this job himself/herself; they could’ve been seriously injured.

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