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How to cut the ends of high branches that overhang a house's roof and gutter.

DendrophileTom

DendrophileTom

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Dec 14, 2020
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Bear, DE
I am not a professional arborist. I have taken a 3 day class on tree climbing, purchased climbing gear for Double Rope Technique climbing and I have been climbing trees for pruning purposes for the last 2 years in my spare time. I also have a 21' Silky Zubat pole saw with a pruning head. My son has a large oak tree, about 15-20' from his house, which has numerous limbs which overhang his front roof and gutter, which he would like removed, safely. The roof is too steep to prune the ends of the branches with the pole saw from the roof. I can limb walk the branches about 5' out from the trunk so I can get my version of a rigging rope around the branches at that point. But because the branches farther out split and narrow in diameter I do not feel safe going out any farther. Both my son and I are concerned that if I place the "rigging" rope around the branches 5' from the trunk, and cut the branches 3-4' from the trunk, the ends of the branches will swing down across the roof and damage the gutters. The branches are 25-35' off the ground and are very flexible towards their ends so I am not sure that I could use a cutting chain thrown around them, just off the roof of the house, to cut off the ends. Any ideas from those more experienced than myself would be greatly appreciated.
 

Yarz

ArboristSite Operative
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Nov 7, 2016
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Location
Tarentum, PA
What is the diameter of the branch where you can get to, and how much farther would you ideally like to get your rope out? I'm not a professional either, but these are some ideas that I would think about in a situation like yours:

Did you try throwing the rigging rope out farther? A throwing bundle or noose will help to add weight to the end for tossing.

Can you use a throw ball to place your rigging rope?

Are you comfortable enough to use the pole saw from your position in the tree? If so, you could:
  1. Use it to do the pruning from there, or
  2. To help place your rigging rope farther out.
Are you high enough above the roof that a notch placed on a 45° downward angle could swing the branches sideways enough to miss the roof? What if your rigging rope was tensioned enough from above to add some support to the branch, so it didn't go down as quickly, but swung even more to the side?
 

Del_

Career arborist
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Feb 18, 2002
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28,161
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U. S. of A.
Photos would help.

We don't know if it is your limited climbing skills or if you truly have a very difficult job to do for a climber. Nothing will make a climber feel more limited than attending an international tree climbing competition so I'm not using 'limited' as a slam.

There are all kinds of advanced rigging options including using two rope and using a throw line to place a lowering rope further up in the tree.
 
DendrophileTom

DendrophileTom

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Dec 14, 2020
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2
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Bear, DE
Thank you for everyone's replies and ideas. I can definitely use a throw line to try and place my rigging rope farther out on the branch and use my pole saw from my position in the tree in order to cut farther out on the limb. Renting a lift from HD is a good idea. They are available where I live and cost $223 or $279 for 4 hrs to rent a 35' or 50' lift. Unfortunately, because of the slope of the terrain around the work site I wouldn't be able to get the lift into the position needed. To Del_ and TimberMcPherson, I appreciate your words of wisdom. If using a throw line does not enable me to safely solve the problem then I will punt and live to tackle some other simpler task.
 

DSW

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It sounds like you don't have enough experience yet. Being Oak, a large Oak at that, means it most likely has a perfect central tie in, not to mention a ton of options and redirects.

Keep climbing, keep learning, stay safe. Don't rig over houses until you can get further than five foot away from the trunk.
 
Dave1960_Gorge

Dave1960_Gorge

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Mar 18, 2021
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81
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Hood River
Try but tying or balance it with two ropes, one on the tip to pull it from the roof and one for lowering the branch.
My approach would be to get my life line tie in high in the tree, and then place a second high tie in; that gives you the stability to limb walk and choose the best places to be to rig and cut from ( could be different locations).

Strap a pulley to a stout branch ( at least as thick as the butt of the branch you are cutting) and rig the piece you are cutting using a running bowline. I usually use a pole saw with a double stick (16 ft) with the end of the line tied to a heavy steel biner; about a foot of rope and the biner is draped over the hook on the pole saw head—- you place the rope where you want it, pull it to yourself with the hook, and tie the running bowline ( or just choke the limb if there are some stubs or forks).

Depending on the situation, you might butt tie it, tip tie it, or try to balance it in the middle. You might also want a tag line on it so someone on the ground can reduce energy of the swing or direct it to miss gutters and windows.
It all depends... basically you need the experience in order to pick the safest, most efficient approach. You can get away with cut and pray, with a load line just tossed through a crotch nearby, but don’t count on it. A lot can go wrong.
 
BC WetCoast

BC WetCoast

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Make sure your climbing line is high. Don't try limb walking, rather be a little lower, sitting in your harness and pull yourself out on the branch. That way you're always secure in your harness. Use your lanyard to secure your position on the limb. Now you can get further out on the limb, and make smaller cuts. Use a pole pruner and clip the ends at a size they won't damage the roof. Then the limb will be small enough to rig without damage.

If you can get out on the limb or get your rigging line out there, you could tip tie it so the butt goes down the tree and the tip stays high.

The adage I always go by - small pieces, small damage.
 
SlimJim1983

SlimJim1983

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Mar 14, 2021
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Kansas City, MO
As a amateur arborist myself, the discovery of the "double" line was tremendous. Not MRS (DdRT), which is the system I climb on, but using two ropes within the tree and being tied to both of them. Dave1960_Gorge was the one who confirmed for me this was a technique I should try! Especially on the more complicated jobs, cuts, and angles, between the two ropes and my lanyard, it gives me the stability I need to safely do the job when I get out past my limited skill set.

Does the two ropes slow you down? Yes, absolutely. It is that much more labor intensive to get everything set up and ready to work. But will it ultimately make you able to do things you probably couldn't otherwise? Also yes. I recently used it to spike up a small stem that I was not particularly confident in, but the stability of the two ropes and the lanyard was tremendous.

This is a dangerous job, there is always risk. We are not interested in risk elimination per se; you have a chainsaw in your hands in a tree however many feet up. That in itself makes an insurance agent sweat and an ER doctor excited. We are interested in risk reduction and mitigation. And like you said, if it is still too much, hand it off to someone who is more experienced!
 
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