Reducing the Risk of a Large Tree

Patrick preparing to make another reduction cut.

A while back we worked on a very large California Pepper Tree that was growing up right next to a house and posed some risk. The trunks on most large Pepper Trees that we have take out are rotten/hollow. We suspected that this tree was in the same condition but couldn’t prove it. There were a lot of broken branches hanging up in the tree from previous windstorms.

The owner loves the tree and wanted to save by all means. We decided that the best way to keep it upright was to take quite a bit of weight off of it, starting at the top (see the extension ladder below Patrick, it is set on the roof of the house!). Topping trees is no longer considered healthy for the tree. It sets in motion a rotting process that is hard for the tree to control. Suckers also spring from around the cut and soon the tree is as tall as it was before – but, it now has structural defects that will ensure its failure!

We planned to make reduction cuts on this Pepper Tree – taking off small, upward forking branches,┬áleaving lateral branches. You can see a number of these cuts that have already been made in the photo above. After we did this cutting and took out the deadwood and hangers, the tree was lightened a lot. The wind will be able to move through it and (hopefully) it will stay standing. The thing we didn’t know about was all the freezing weather we would have this winter – the Pepper Trees took a beating and we really hope this one pulls through!

The branches we removed were fairly small and light, so I judged that I would be able to lift them out of the tree with my mini-lift. In the photo above, I have lowered a rope to Patrick and he has tied it off to the branch. He’s making sure everything is set to go before he cuts it off. Then, I lift and swing it over the street & lower it down to the chipper! It worked really well!