tree care professionals

Ways to Cut Tree Branches or Limbs That Are Too High to Reach

If you’re trying to cut a tree branch or limb that is too high to reach, there are many ways you can do this. Using a ladder is an option if it’s available and the branches or limbs aren’t too thick. 

You could also use rope and pulley or build your own apparatus with ropes, logs, and boards. In any case, make sure you have secured yourself before cutting anything so that you don’t fall off of the ladder or get injured while using another method.

Have you ever trimmed tree branches by yourself? If the answer is yes, you know how difficult that task can be, especially if the branches are too high to reach. Whether you are cutting steel or wood, the preparation starts with securing the right equipment. 

A tree branch cutter can use a pole saw or pruner, or even a bucket saw. Additionally, it’s vital to monitor every move to avoid potential falls and injuries. 

In this article, we are focusing on cutting high branches. We’ll cover everything from the best time for cutting them to multiple ways to approach the problem. Once you finish reading, it’ll be easy to tackle even the highest limbs and branches!

What Is The Best Time To Trim The Branches?

You can use a reciprocating saw pruning blade for cutting branches, and the tool will do a great job. Apart from using the right equipment, it’s vital to find the right time for DIY tree trimming. 

For the tree’s health, it’s best to perform the cutting during the winter. That’s because trees are dormant during that season. Therefore, it’s less risky for diseases and pests to attack it. Even if pests only attack one tree, it can quickly spread to others. 

So, it might be a danger for the whole backyard. If you notice sick branches, you should act as soon as possible. Cutting high tree limbs that suffered damage will prevent the disease from spreading.

From the perspective of a tree limb cutter, it helps if it’s not too cold, rainy, or windy. So, pick a winter afternoon when the weather is relatively okay for that season.

How Can You Cut Branches Or Limbs?

If you ever wondered how to cut tree limbs, the good news is there are multiple ways to do it. Here is the expert advice, so go ahead and pick the most suitable method.

Use a Pole Pruner. The most common way to cut off a limb is to use a pole pruner. These feature a simple method of reaching high branches, but one pruner might not fit all branches. So, start by analysing the height of the branches to cut. 

The experts suggest using a tape measure or other methods to assess the height. Next, use that information to acquire a pruner of adequate length. A pole pruner is nothing but a tall tree trimmer. Some offer a fixed height, and you can adjust others. Therefore, it’s possible to extend the pole if necessary.

Use a Pole Saw. A pole saw is another extendable pruning tool. It comes with a blade and an extendable pole. Therefore, it can reach up to 20 feet in height, which is impressive. On the other hand, these saws can’t handle thick branches. 

So, the maximum branch thickness to cut with it is up to 1-2 inches. If the branches are thicker, the experts suggest looking for a more suitable alternative.

Use a Pocket Saw with a Rope. Some call this an improvisation, but it’s a convenient way of cutting branches. Furthermore, it’s affordable when the limb is way too high, and you need to cut it. So, the idea is to get a strong rope for attaching the saw firmly. 

The first step is to throw it over the branch you plan to cut. Therefore, the rope should be of optimal length and not only strength.

Pull the rope to get the blade to the right height and position it properly. Now, start the cutting process until you remove the branch. Using a rope saw for trees is tricky, but it allows finishing the job without significant investments.

Use a Ladder with a Pruner or Pruning Saw. If you don’t like using the rope, it’s also possible to get a ladder. The crucial thing is that it is stable and can reach the required height. So, if the branch is 20 feet tall, you’ll need a tall ladder. 

The first step is placing the ladder in a stable position. Furthermore, ask someone to hold the ladder. It will minimise the risk of it falling to the ground. Be careful when leaning on the tree or other branches. Your goal is to find an optimal position for cutting. Once you identify it, activate the tool and remove the target branch.

Rent a Bucket Lift. A bucket lift is a professional tool with a high price tag. Therefore, it’s smart to rent it when you need to cut branches. You can acquire a trailer and other types, so make sure to pick the one that corresponds to the target limb height.

The advantage of using bucket lifts is that you can reach over 100 feet with them. On the other hand, the biggest problem is transferring the lift to the cutting location. You can use a truck to pull smaller bucket lifts. 

Climb the Tree Using Ropes and Harness. Do you have sufficient physical strength to climb that tree? A tree branch cutter can utilise ropes and harnesses to climb and cut the target limb. However, not all trees are suitable for climbing. 

So, analyse if there are branches too close to each other or whether you could damage the tree’s structure if you climb it. Finally, make sure to analyse every move made for optimal safety carefully.

It’s vital to bring the saw to cut tree limbs with yourself. The experts advise tying it around the body but make sure it doesn’t bother you while climbing.

Use a Phone to Call a Professional. There are ways to trim tree branches yourself, but it’ll require putting time and effort. You could be afraid of heights, or the entire project seems too risky. Whether you lack experience or prefer someone else to do it, don’t hesitate to call a professional.

Calling an arborist means minimising safety risk and letting an experienced pro handle the cutting. They’ll also make sure to assess other branches and recommend other moves for maintaining the tree’s health.

Tree Branch Cutter– What To Pay Attention To When Trimming Tree Limbs?

It’s vital to approach a tree branch cutting project with maximum caution. So, here are the safety measures to consider during the process!

Take the Right Element. The elements refer to attire and equipment that suit the current conditions. For example, you’ll require safety goggles because pine needles and tree dust might go into your eyes. Gloves will protect you from scratching your hands, while anti-slip shoes ensure stability while climbing. 

It’s vital to have the right tools, too. So, make sure to find suitable equipment. For example, a basic pole pruner is excellent for thin branches, but some projects require a professional high limb rope chainsaw.

Inspect the Trees for Weakness or Cracks Before Climbing. Here is a critical safety tip – there are no hasty moves when climbing a tree. Instead, the experts suggest analysing how you’ll climb before making the first step. 

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Then, once you begin heading up, be careful about every step. It’s vital the branch you are leaning on can hold your weight. Otherwise, there’s a high risk of falling, and that’s not something you want happening. 

Avoid Improper Pruning Cut. The process of pruning is vital for the tree’s health and aesthetics. So, the experts recommend counting the distance of six inches to leave on the branch. On the other hand, it’s vital to remove any disease signs to avoid the entire tree getting infected. 

A tree branch cutter should avoid flush and stub cuts. The flush cut means cutting too close to the truck, and the tree will take longer to recover. A stub cut is cutting too far away and might lead to the tree decaying backward, which means you did even bigger damage.

Safety Tips

  • Consider the tool’s power source – if you use an electric saw, make sure to wear clothes that don’t conduct electricity well.
  • If there are power or cable lines in the tree, it’s best to call a professional. 
  • Always consider where the removed branch will fall and make sure you don’t hurt anyone.
  • Wear protective equipment, such as helmets, glasses, gloves, etc.

Should I Cover Large Pruning Wounds With A Tree Wound Dressing?

In decades past, recommendations were often made to apply tree paint to wounds. The idea was that this paint would prevent decay, help speed healing, and improve the appearance of the cut. 

Although these claims have been debunked for years, many tree wound dressing products can be purchased online or at garden supply stores. Many are petroleum-based and advertised as waterproof and flexible to keep insects and fungi from invading the pruned areas. 

Better yet, some of these same products claim they can be used for multiple purposes, from waterproofing and sealing gutters and roof flashings to protecting the undersides of lawnmower decks. Clearly, these materials don’t seem like they would be healthy to apply to living tissue. I certainly wouldn’t want to get a tree dressing on my own skin, let alone a cut or scrape.

In reality, pruning paint may impede healing and encourage the growth of rot organisms and insect infestation. In addition, rather than seal out infection, wound dressings often seal in moisture and decay. Therefore, in most cases, it is best to let wounds seal on their own simply. 

Over millennia, trees have developed effective mechanisms for this. Unlike people or animals, woody plants are unable to heal damaged tissues. Instead, they compartmentalise wounds with layers of cells that prevent damage from spreading any further. 

A properly pruned tree or shrub will seal off wounds and prevent decay organisms from entering the trunk. Naturally, small wounds seal much faster than large ones, making a clear argument for pruning and training plants when they are young.

By the same token, you should never attempt to fill large cracks or holes in trees. Although it may be tempting to plug a large opening with cement or foam, neither of these materials will bond with the tree’s wood, and they will hold moisture, speed the development of wood decay fungi, and obstruct the natural compartmentalisation process. A better approach is to monitor the tree’s health and consult with a certified arborist if you think it might become a hazard.

What Do You Put On A Tree After Cutting Off The Limb?

The other day, my attention was drawn to the question of what to put on a tree after cutting off the limb. My wife had remembered a time when her grandfather spoke about painting a tree wound with varnish, but she thought she must be misremembering. 

After all, that couldn’t be right, could it? So is this something you should put on a tree wound, or are there other ways to deal with it.

It was once standard practice to paint a tree wound after trimming. However, it is now considered better to leave the tree to heal naturally, leaving the cut unpainted, and there are only a few instances when anything should be applied to the cut.  

Unfortunately for the trees in the garden of my wife’s grandfather, painting varnish, tar, or similar sticky substances onto the wound of a freshly made cut WAS considered the correct thing to do.

Fortunately, we now know that this is not a good idea, although few exceptions exist. Here’s a rundown of what you need to know about making healthy cuts, post cutting care, and the circumstances in which applying something to a tree cut is the best thing to do.

Professional arborists, landscape gardeners, and horticulturalists are divided over the answer to this question. Generally speaking, they fall into two groups:

  • Group One: This group believes that it is important to seal a tree wound after pruning. They have been taught that it is an effective way to prevent both potential decay caused by excess moisture and disease caused by the entrance of micro-organisms into the open wound.
  • Group Two: This group is of the opinion that trees are best left to their own devices after pruning and that their natural healing abilities are sufficient to protect them from disease and decay.

Of course, this division between the experienced professionals is not especially useful for the enthusiastic but amateur gardener who is looking for informed advice to guide them. So let me guide you through what happens when you prune a tree, how trees recover from pruning and the ins and outs of wound sealers. After this, you should be well equipped to make your own informed decision about what to put on a tree after cutting off a limb.

What Happens When You Prune A Tree?

Trees and other woody plants have a well developed, natural response to damage. Their reaction is the same whether a wound is caused through natural causes, such as in the case of storm damage or as the result of deliberate pruning.

The way in which a tree responds to damage is not the same as healing in the way that most people understand it. For example, when a person suffers a wound, their natural healing systems kick into gear and:

  • Your blood clots to prevent excessive blood loss
  • A crust forms over the wound to protect the body from disease-causing organisms.
  • Under the crust, healing occurs, and the damaged tissue is replaced with new, healthy tissue integrated into the surrounding tissue.

However, when a tree recovers from a wound it:

  • Forms a special coating of tissue that both physically and chemically repels harmful organisms. This layer is made up of a complex substance called lignin. You can think of this a kind of glue that holds the cells of a tree together and makes the plant “woody .”
  • Beginning at the edge of the wound and working towards the centre, this tissue seals the wound off from the rest of the tree. This leaves the area of the wound encased in a kind of shell.
  • New growth gradually spreads over the top of the wound shell but does not integrate with it.

So, people create new tissue that integrates with the existing and forms a seamless repair, while trees encase a wound in a capsule which remains forever sealed off from the rest of the tree. Understanding this distinction is critical when considering using sealants on your tree.

What IS A Wound Pruning Sealer?

Unsurprisingly, anything that is used to cover up the area exposed after pruning a tree is a wound pruning sealer. They do not have to be a commercially available product. 

Many gardeners utilise homemade sealers or products designed for other uses but used for this purpose – paint or varnish.

Also called pruning sealers, pruning paint, or wound paint, the products found online and in stores are thick liquids made to be painted onto the area where you have cut back your tree.

They claim to promote the healing of pruning cuts and minimise sap loss. The majority of sealers are petroleum-based, although some may also contain asphalt, and a new generation of sealers has begun to emerge with ingredients that sound much like cosmetics. 

So yes, you can now treat your trees wound with an application of sealer containing collagen or even aloe vera.

When Is A Wound Sealer Used?

Wound sealers are traditionally used immediately after you or your professional gardener/arborist have removed a limb from one of your trees. The theory being that by sealing the wound quickly, you minimize the risk of infection.

Though many gardeners used to apply wound dressings such as latex paint mixed with water to protect trees after pruning, current research has revealed that this is not beneficial. Wound dressings don’t prevent decay, disease or insect infestations as once believed. 

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They may even prevent the wood from drying, which can spark fungal growth. So if you want to apply a wound dressing for cosmetic reasons, you should at least make sure the paint is nontoxic.

How Can Pruning Sealers Be A Bad Thing?

As was previously believed, Wound sealers do not prevent disease, decay, or insect infestations. In some cases, sealers might even be harmful. For example, using a sealer on your tree can:

  • Seal in any moisture, insects, and disease already present, promoting infection and decay.
  • Prevent the wood from drying, which can create the perfect conditions for fungal infections.
  • Attract exactly the kind of organisms you are trying to exclude because some may be drawn by the ingredients of the sealer.
  • Stop or slow the natural “encasing” process of the wood, causing the tree stress and creating a longer window of vulnerability.

Should You Use A Wound Pruning Sealer At All?

In the majority of cases, it is best to leave a tree to heal itself. On average, this will take a year or two, depending on the species, size of the cut, and any environmental factors which may have an impact.

However, sometimes, You Should Use A Wound Pruning Sealer. For example, you may be forced to prune a tree during the spring or summer. Unfortunately, this is not the best time to do your pruning. Winter is the optimal season for pruning your trees because their growth is at a minimum or completely dormant, and the risk of disease is at its lowest. 

Nonetheless, if the tree has sustained some damage or has branches that are crossing over and rubbing against each other, you may have no choice but to prune ASAP. In this case, it may be prudent to use a sound sealer if the tree will be otherwise left especially vulnerable.

Another occasion is during periods of severe drought when a tree will have difficulty recovering because it already has to conserve fluids. In this situation, a thin layer of sealer can help a tree seal in the little moisture it has.

Finally, if a limb has broken off and the break is flush with the trunk, the tree will find it significantly more difficult to seal itself. As a consequence, a little sealer might be appropriate.

What Should You Do After Cutting Off A Tree Limb?

Before considering what to do after cutting off a limb, you should ensure you are pruning correctly. You should always prune with sharp, clean tools to prevent injury, ragged cuts, and disease. 

Take care to clean your trimmers, saws, and pruning shears between uses, thoroughly drying them and storing them in a clean, dry place. This will minimise the possibility of introducing disease via dirty tools.

Place your cut at the base of the limb, leaving a small collar of wood at the base. This is the point at which the branch grows out from the trunk and is a slightly swollen, raised area. Leaving this collar makes it easier for the tree to form it’s callous.

If pruning sealer/paint should not be your first line of response to help your pruned tree, what should you do?

  • As soon as you have finished pruning, give your tree a long hard drink of water. This will help it stay hydrated and eliminate one stressor that can impact wound recovery.
  • Fertilise your tree as you usually would, but minimise avoid those with high nitrogen levels, especially if you have pruned a number of limbs. While it might normally be appropriate, nitrogen bolsters leafy growth and this surge in growth, alongside the need to heal, can be too much for a tree, causing it to become weak, stressed, and vulnerable.
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