Tree and Brush Clean-Ups

Spring Safety 101: Tree and Brush Clean-Ups

By John Voket - I know I have 'tapped' the knowledge of the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) in the past in order to bring you the best information about tree safety and care. However, I was recently contacted to help the organization promote a critical safety message for home and property owners requiring tree and brush clean-ups this spring.

Tchukki Andersen, a Board Certified Master Arborist, Certified Tree Safety Professional and staff arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association wants property owners to appreciate that tree work, while appearing fairly straightforward and simple, is actually extremely complicated and technical.

Andersen says there is so much to understand about removing live or hanging tree branches, and it is not at all like cutting up firewood on the ground.

He always hopes anyone requiring tree work will consult with a qualified tree professional who is trained to look for and take special precautions against trees or branches with decay, cracks or unbalanced weight; working near overhead electrical wires; preventing falls; and removing portions of or entire trees without causing property damage, or bodily harm to themselves or others.

Andersen has seen too many cases where inexperienced and well-meaning do-it-yourselfers have been hurt trying to cut their own trees, and makes these recommendations to help keep you safe:

• Find a sturdy ladder that will reach at least 5 feet beyond the branch you lean it on. When a large branch is cut from a tree, the loss of the weight will cause the rest of the limb to suddenly lurch up. According to Andersen, many unaware homeowners have been severely injured, some fatally, when the ladder they are standing on falls out from under the branch they are cutting. The biggest danger is taking too big or too unwieldy of a piece at one time.
• Be sure tools are properly sharpened or maintained. Andersen says a dull chain forces you to use too much pressure, causing you to lose control. This can lead to numerous problems, many of them potentially resulting in a hospital visit.
• Be aware of where you are cutting. Andersen knows trees are mechanically complex organisms that need to be cut in a certain way to remove pieces safely. Cutting off a large section of limb to save time will usually cause the branch to fall before the cut is finished. The cut end will often tear into the branch all the way back to the trunk. This action can cause damage to the tree (and to the person cutting) as it swings out of control.

For more information, locate a local TCIA Member by calling 1-800-733-2622 or by doing a ZIP Code search on