Removing trees and shrubs is a necessary part of managing landscapes. Tree and shrub removal is the process of structurally disassembling a selected plant above ground and sometimes below ground using skill, equipment and tools. Although seemingly straightforward, tree and shrub removal can be very technical and require extensive planning and experience to execute successfully. Important variables that must be considered for a safe and successful removal include plant size, location, species, and current health and structural integrity of the plant. Tree ownership and property boundaries must be defined accurately before work begins. Full attention must be given to the safety of the arborist(s) along with surrounding structures, plants, and utilities. Some situations offer an alternative to complete removal and permit retention of a “habitat tree” which is a safe standing height of a tree’s trunk left for the benefit of insects and animals using it as shelter and nesting. Recognizing the reason(s) for plant removal along with a proper plan is essential in achieving the desired outcome.
Reasons for Removal
• Poses unacceptable risk or significantly damaged by storms or other causes
• Declined due to disease, insect damage or environmental stress
• Poor branch structure
• Crowding other plants or structures
• Resides in construction site
• Damaging to underground structures or utilities due to root heaving
• Specimen is undesirable or unsuitable to location or adjacent landscape plantings
Methods of Removal
• Felling – plant is cut down whole or in large part or pulled out of the ground with the root structure attached.
• Climbing and Rigging – specialized ropes and climbing hardware are used to access the tree and “rig
down” manageable parts to accommodate space limitations and minimize damage to property.
• Aerial Lift – a mechanical piece of equipment is used to position an arborist in a tree who then uses rigging
techniques to lower tree parts to the ground; used when tree integrity does not support climbing or where
access to the tree canopy is difficult or dangerous.
• Mobile Crane – a mobile crane is set up on site to mechanically lift out and lower tree parts to the ground;
used where tree integrity or the absence of adjacent trees do not allow for rigging down tree parts.
• Stump Grinding – a mechanical piece of equipment is used to grind a stump to a desired depth.
Qualification for Removing Trees and Shrubs
Tree and shrub removal is the most dangerous part of tree care placing safety of the arborist and property as the primary concern. An arborist must understand the properties of the woody plant including: wood strength, wood weight, wood elasticity and amount of decay in the wood. An arborist must also know the many specialized cutting methods and techniques as well as the highly technical skills related to climbing and safely rigging tree parts to the ground with ropes and specialized hardware. If stump grinding is to be performed proper marking of public and private homeowner utilities must occur to protect worker safety and avoid disruption of service. An ISA Certified
Arborist is extensively trained in the technical elements of removal and held to a continuing education requirement. All tree and shrub removal work performed by an arborist shall be completed in compliance with the ANSI A300 technical standard and the Z133.1 safety standard.