Saving trees from impostor arborists

Late winter is busy tree pruning time. Not a job for a gardener, nor for a wannabe arborist! Call in the pros.

About tree pros:

Hire a certified arborist

...one who earned that certificate by studying trees and how to work safely aloft. A certified arborist can do all that needs to be done without harming the tree or endangering lives and property. The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) manages certification of its members. It's a rigorous and thorough program.

Did you know that the arborist's job is one of the most dangerous professions?

It's not far behind mining and lumbering. We were initially surprised at this high danger rating, because we know many arborists and all the precautions they take. Then we realized that the record includes wannabe arborists, the people who hire out to do tree work thinking all they need is a saw and a truck. Well meaning and hardworking as they may be, without hard hats, safety lines and an understanding of the physics that hold trees upright, these people are probably a major factor in the accident and death statistics.

In the lower copy of this photo the blue line traces the barely-visible rope tied between tree and white truck. The arrow indicates where gravity dictated and the tree did fall. "Hope" is not part of a professional arborist's planning process. Very fortunately, the forlorn hope of these wannabe arborists only damaged the roof, gutters and eaves of a building. We know and unfortunately have witnessed people hurt. Don't let it happen at your home. Hire certified arborists.

In the lower copy of this photo the blue line traces the barely-visible rope tied between tree and white truck. The arrow indicates where gravity dictated and the tree did fall. "Hope" is not part of a professional arborist's planning process. Very fortunately, the forlorn hope of these wannabe arborists only damaged the roof, gutters and eaves of a building. We know and unfortunately have witnessed people hurt. Don't let it happen at your home. Hire certified arborists.

As an example

...of why you do not want amateurs working in your trees, consider this that we saw last month. We've marked a duplicate photo to help you see the rope tethering 1/3 of this maple tree to the white truck. The people doing the tree removal hoped this arrangement would cause the top of the tree to fall in the direction of the truck's pull.

"Hope" is not part of a professional arborist's planning process. In the real example in the photo, the part of the tree being cut may weigh a ton or more. If the rope holds it might lift and pull the truck. unless it first pulls off the bumper and drags it across the yard. If the rope breaks, the whiplash of its free end can seriously injure or even kill people on the ground nearby. If the rope holds, given its low point of attachment, it could only act to tip the trunk to fall away from the pull.

As it turned out, this rope broke. Its snapping end just missed the man on the ground. The trunk fell just as gravity directed it, onto the neighbor's house. (Out of respect for the neighbor, who came running to see what had slammed onto his roof, Steven lowered his camera until the shouting and the roof-clearing finished.)

Rated X

Fortunately, only property was damaged this time. We probably could not even whisper this report to you if we had seen someone badly injured.

Our first grandchild so loved to watch things like bulldozers, excavators, bucket trucks and chippers in action that whenever we heard machinery we would put her in the backpack and go walking. Sometimes we'd walk a long way in pursuit of the sounds. Yet if the source turned out to be a crew of bare headed unprofessional people working on trees, we would walk on by rather than chance having the girl see what we knew could happen.

"Cheap" tree work is dangerous

Don't you share our feeling, that it would be terrible to have someone hurt while working in your trees? Please keep this in mind when someone tells you, "Hey, we can do that tree work for you, cheap."

Finding a certified arborist

Stick with pros to prune and remove trees. The ISA lists the companies and individuals it has certified at its "For the public" site https://www.treesaregood.org/findanarborist/findanarborist. Certified arborists display their credentials in their promotional materials and provide them readily on request.

Arborists, utility company workers and lumberjacks call them climbers or spikes. Trees call them "trouble."

Arborists, utility company workers and lumberjacks call them climbers or spikes. Trees call them "trouble."

One last note

...as we enter the late winter busy season for tree work: A tree should not be climbed with gaffs unless the tree is being removed.

Gaffs (also called spikes) are the metal hooks on the climbers strapped onto the feet of some utility company workers, lumberjacks and arborists. Gaffs penetrate the bark and damage the critical growing portion of the trunk called the cambium.

Gaff wounds invite fungal infection and open the door to wood boring insects. Informed tree care professionals know this and work from bucket trucks, lift devices or climb with rope and saddle. Do not allow your trees to be gaffed.