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Why Not to Hire a Tree Trimmer Who Wears Spikes

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Why not hire a tree trimmer who wears spikes…

To understand why not to hire a tree trimmer who wears spikes, consider this…

You have three big, beautiful Cherry trees in your front garden. And you hire someone to prune them. Plus, you’re going to pay these people to do the work for you. But they show up wearing climbing spikes. And they hammer those spikes into the sides of your healthy trees so they can climb up the tree. And that damages the bark. In fact, it tears off a lot of the bark.

So not only do you end up with torn up trees, but you get the extra bonus of paying for them to do this damaging work.

So why is this dismaying?

First, the living part of the tree is directly below the protective bark layer. And this “cambium” layer is where the plant transports nutrients up and down the stem. So the bark outside protects this living space.

Second, plants don’t heal like we do. So every spike insertion becomes an invitation for pests and disease to enter the living tree.

Third, the tree looks really terrible after you hire a tree trimmer who wears spikes.

Fourth, there are better ways to climb a tree for pruning than wearing spikes!

Is there a time when it is okay for an arborist to wear spikes?

There are a few times when wearing spikes is okay. For instance, if a tree is being removed, it doesn’t matter if the cambium gets damaged. And wearing spikes might help the tree worker climb and work in place.

What are other ways arborists can climb a tree to prune?

Arborists have a few non-invasive was to safely work in the tops of tall trees.

First, tree trimmers can simply use ladders to get into the canopy of some smaller trees.

Second, some arboriculture companies invest in trucks with lift buckets. And they use these to navigate the tops of large trees without climbing.

Third, other tree workers climb trees is with rope systems. These require rigging. So some lazy tree trimmers may complain that using them will increase homeowner costs. But considering that spikes may destroy the tree’s health and beauty, paying for more careful, slow labor can lead to cost savings!

When hiring a tree trimming service…

First, be sure to find out what certifications the service holds. And ideally hire an ISA-certified, licensed arborist.

Second, if the service offers to top your trees, that’s your signal to run away immediately.

Tree trimmers who wear spikes top trees often

This Tree was Topped Twice!

Third, if they climb using anything other than ropes, saddles and ladders, don’t let them near your tree. Those spikes will cause damage from which your tree may never recover.

Remember:  you’d be paying to have your trees — your investment in plants — destroyed rather than cared for.

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6 comments on “Why Not to Hire a Tree Trimmer Who Wears Spikes

  1. Katy on

    Actually a lot of old school “arborists” who learned from logging practices don’t think that spike or spur climbing has any long term effect on trees. While this has been debunked it’s still a rampant way of entering trees. Not only that, it’s easier than learning a whole bunch of knots and rope techniques so new climbers learning from older guys aren’t even aware that there are other ways of climbing. I’m so sorry they had this happen – what a unfortunate waste of money.

  2. Jon Gotham on

    I very much agree. I was taught to use the spikes to climb trees when I trimmed the trees, but since I’ve seen the research on the long term effects that climbing spikes have on trees, I have invested in an aerial work platform that enables my crew to trim tall trees without injuring the tree.

    (Edited at moderator’s discretion to remove self-promotional linking.)

  3. John on

    What a horror. I too can spot when a novice tree service company has passed through when I enter a customers yard. (I’m an arborist) It’s disheartening when money comes before the health of a living tree.

  4. Tom Cavanaugh on

    There seems to be an abundance of tree services who disregard the proper techniques for the care of trees. In my city, and in the condominium complex I live, topping, tipping and excessive branch removal of trees is common, and in fact the norm. I have seen the people working on the trees on our property using spikes on a regular basis to access trees. I have gone to the city many times to voice my complaints and the city see no problems with any of the forementioned issues. I have gone to the manager of our property whose response was to call me a tree hugger. I think one of the big issues is not only a lack of education but a belief in the facts.

  5. Garden Mentors on

    Tom,
    Thanks for sharing your sad story. Unfortunately, you’re right. What you’ve experienced isn’t uncommon. Keep on trying to educate others and build a better world for the trees!

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