It seems that everyone who owns trees has asked themselves that same question at one time or another: “Should I do the tree work myself or should I hire a tree care professional to handle it for me?”
Whether you have a branch that has sustained damage during a recent storm or an entire tree withering away from decay, when it comes to tree work, there are certain elements to be addressed long before a single cut is made.
Let’s start with tree physics and biology. Tree professionals undergo years of training and experience before they can easily decipher the precision of felling a tree. Believe it or not, tree physics is the first thing that is learned and must be considered when it comes to cutting into trees. The law of gravity, of course mostly dictates where the tree or limb is going to fall, but also additionally, the physical makeup of the tree is a big player as well. Experts assess the tree’s weight distribution and how it’s positioned. It’s imperative to learn and anticipate how a tree is going to fall once it’s cut. Tree arborists can identify when there are potential hazards for back lashing, twisting, splitting or splintering. You must be prepared in advance for each one of these scenarios. It’s far too late once the tree is cut to try and redirect the way it’s falling. A professional tree care worker scans the trees with a keen eye and has the knowledge to almost foretell how a tree will fall. Trees and their limbs are much too big and heavy to stop them from falling a certain way once they start to go and there will be no time for adjustments.
The cut is just as important, in other words, how the cut into the tree is going to be made. An expert can easily assess which type of cut is best for the application, a hinge or pollard, for example. Maybe reduction thinning is a more appropriate approach. Knowing where and how to cut into a tree is essential in how the branch or tree ultimately falls. Another aspect for consideration is what parts of the tree are going to be left after the cut. How much of the tree will remain? The North Carolina State University Extension states that “Every cut must ensure little loss of photosynthetic activity as possible” this safeguards the health of the remaining tree.
Jon Herring of the Iowa DNR Forestry Bureau insists that when it comes to tree felling, a good felling plan along with taking safety precautions are essential. Professionals always have an action plan factoring in the tree lean, height and wind in regards to where the tree is going to fall, where they’d like the tree to fall, and is it possible with no potential hazards in the way?
What about the equipment that is going to be used to tackle this arbor project? Is the chainsaw that is being used properly sharpened? Using a dull chainsaw requires the operator to put extra pressure on the saw increasing the risk for incident through loss of control.
Trees are obviously very tall so merely getting into proper position poses a unique situation. A lot of, do-it- yourself individuals will use ladders. When typically, it is not recommended to use extension ladders since the ladder must be at least 5 Ft. beyond the area of the cut. One should never cut below the top of the ladder. Not only are ladders extremely unstable but also place helpers in a dangerous location. There have been several incidents where willing helpers holding the ladder in position ended up becoming victims themselves of serious or fatal injuries for being in the wrong place while holding the ladder. A professional tree crew comes fully prepared with all the proper equipment of saws, ropes, pulleys, chippers and buckets to address the tree care work in a methodical, safe and appropriate manner.
The old-adage of measure twice cut once, can also be used when it comes to tree work. Measure and analyze the potential hazards of: electrical lines, nearby passing individuals, having a completely clear and open drop zone. All of these aspects are a must to consider before that cut is made and not just the first cut but each and every cut.
All the above mentioned tips and much more, are carefully considered by tree professionals each any every time they perform a job. They have years of training on tree physics and biology, they attend seminars and clinics on an on-going basis to stay ahead in the industry, learning from other industry professionals. Tree experts have all the proper equipment and keep it properly maintained. Through their training and expertise, they can easily assess how to approach a tree or limb that needs to be cut and removed. Tree crews work as a single unit where crew members are always on the lookout for one another. They assist each other constantly through voice and hand signals, thereby keeping everyone safe at all times. Some tree crews believe the most dangerous part of their job is driving on the roads that got them to the job. Once on site, through teamwork and all members following the highest safety standards they know they have each other’s backs. They perform as a single, smoothly run operation, similar to a well-greased tree cutting machine.
On a final note, tree work can be extremely dangerous especially when the individual who is operating the saw is under-educated, that’s when accidents happen. Statics show that from 2009-2013 sadly there were 408 fatal tree care accidents in the U.S. and the top three reasons were: Struck by Tree; Fall from Tree or Electrocution. The next time you need some tree work done, we urge you to seriously consider the value of the risk. Accidents happen, and at high costs, do not become a statistic, please contact us professionals instead.