Not Your Everyday Tree Removal: Part 1
By Micah Pace
ISA Certified Arborist TX-3752
Professional Urban Forester
Qualified Tree Risk Assessor
There are many individuals far more qualified and experienced than I to offer such information, though I did used to work in the woods in north central Maine…just saying. In all seriousness, though, tree removal work is some of the most dangerous work around and requires a safe and serious approach. There are professional training courses that teach proper safety and technique. If you plan to remove trees as a main part of your business, I encourage you to attend a professional training seminar to learn more about proper tree removal and felling…your crews, your clients, and your clients’ neighbors will thank you.
Tree removal in the urban and suburban environment can be a challenging task, one that requires in depth knowledge and experience with the techniques of tree felling and the use of climbing ropes and equipment. Safe tree removal requires an understanding of tree biomechanics, species-specific differences in wood density (i.e. weight) and strength, the potential for wood decay resistance (i.e. CODIT), and perhaps more important than anything…knowing one’s own limits.
Some tree removal jobs can be very simple. Felling a tree in a large open area, such as a park, would be an example of a basic tree removal that can often be accomplished right from the ground making a front notch cut(s), creating a hinge, and making a final back cut (i.e. removal cut), allowing the tree to fall in a pre-identified direction void of any conflicts. Proper felling techniques regarding hinge width (~10% of trunk diameter) and length (~80% of trunk diameter), the angle of the notch cuts, the proper use of wedges (if needed), and the proper planning for a minimum of two retreat routes established at 45-degree angles from the trunk (i.e. emergency exits) are all part of the methodology a tree care professional should possess and practice if they intend to remove trees safely. A good tree feller can drop a large tree onto a small ground marker a tree-length away every time.
Removing trees within close proximity to structures, such as houses and buildings, typically requires well-developed climbing and rope skills in order to section the tree piece by piece and safely lower the cut material to the ground. This is the work that we as arborists and urban foresters deal with most often. However, there are times when even the best climbing and rope skills alone are not enough to safely remove an urban tree. In these cases, more specialized equipment such as a crane is necessary to assist in the removal process.
In our next article, see how we used these techniques to remove three trees from a home that was built around the trees 30 year ago!