Where to cut

Discussion in 'Arborist 101' started by hosocat, Oct 28, 2018.

  1. hosocat

    hosocat ArboristSite Lurker

    Oct 28, 2018
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    Just curious. I'm not in the business, but I'm trying to learn a little about what arborists do, and how they do it.. Can anyone tell me how an arborists climbing a tree determines where the best height is to cut off the top of a tree? It looks like some only cut off the top few feet after climbing all the way up there, and some will cut off the top 15 or 20 feet.. looks very dangerous. I would be worried about the top falling the wrong direction and squashing me against the trunk.
  2. The Singing Arborist

    The Singing Arborist ArboristSite Member

    Dec 22, 2017
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    This answer can be pretty complicated. In general, "topping" trees is pretty bad for a tree. Topping is basically cutting the top and end branches to a stub, without regard to cutting to side branches. A "crown reduction" is a more careful process of reducing the height and bringing in sides of a tree.

    Some easy guidelines with this would be to reduce a branch back to a side branch or branches that is at least 1/3 the size of what is being removed. The larger the side branches, the better.

    Another rule of thumb is don't remove more than 1/3 of the overall canopy in any one trimming.

    Also, avoid making large cuts where possible. Large cuts take longer for the tree to seal up. Meanwhile water and air are decaying and softening the wood around the cut. Try to keep cuts below 2-3" in diameter.

    There are other considerations that go into this like tree species, tree health, tree's structural integrity.

    The difference between topping and crown reduction can be small, but the impact on tree can be big. If done wrong, it can severely stress a tree, open it up for decay, and alter its growth patterns for the rest of its life.

    If done right, it can improve a tree's shape, reduce weight and force on branches, and reinvigorate the growth of the tree.
  3. BC WetCoast

    BC WetCoast Addicted to ArboristSite

    Oct 30, 2007
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    I assume you mean, on a removal, how high do you climb before taking off the top, then block down the rest of the stem.

    For me, it depends on whether i have to rope the top (go smaller). If i can let it fly, then how much room is there to land the top. The smaller the drop zone the smaller the top.

    Im a bit of a chicken with tiny cajones, and take smaller tops. Small piece, small damage.

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