In the article, “Lift, Climb or Crane,” workers from Edmonds Tree Service in Indiana, ArborMax in North Carolina, and Arborist Services in Hawaii discuss the different reasons they choose certain methods to take down or trim tree. When approaching a tree job, it’s not always clear the best way to do it. A tree care company can bring in the heavy machinery with cranes or lifts, or keep it seemingly simple by sticking to a few climbers. Other companies make the decision based on different factors, from economics, to tree health, to property constraints.

1. Sometimes bucket trucks can be bulky. Warren Kappen, of Kappen Tree Service, says, “We probably have 100 bucket trucks, but those guys have to raise the machine, trim the branch with a chain saw, come back down, and move the truck ahead to the next tree.” He adds, “they work in some of the small areas, but they’re just so clumsy.” For his company, the solution wasn’t to use climbers, but compact tree trimmers instead, but the bulkiness of the machines would be a good reason to not use a bucket truck.

2. One of the primary reasons to use an aerial lift or crane in the tree care business is to increase efficiency and productivity. For Kappen, a two-man bucket crew might be able to trim 64 trees on a good day. That’s certainly faster than a climber.

Sometimes, having the right equipment is what gets a job. For Kappen Tree Services, this meant securing municipal jobs other tree companies couldn’t.

3. Andy Price, tree care market manager with Altec says, “With one pick you can take the whole top out of an 80 or 90-foot oak tree and lay it down in the yard or a street to cut it up. You’re obviously much more productive cutting it up on the ground than someone who’s hanging from ropes or even working from a bucket. Second, and most important, it increases safety, because you’re keeping workers on the ground versus putting them in the air.”

Price believes cranes will continue to be used more frequently in the tree care industry.

4. When serious storms occur, there are several considerations. While it may be difficult to get heavy cranes or lifts to the work site due to downed power lines and other obstacles, storm damaged trees are some of the most difficult to work with. It might be worth the extra time reaching the work site to ensure that you’re not putting employees up in trees that are unpredictable and under pressure.

Perhaps the most difficult and dangerous trees to cut are ones that have been damaged by storms.

5. Cranes can also be used beyond the typical tree removal or large scale pruning operations and can be used in getting woody debris to the chipper or truck, or as a secure tie-in point when the tree to be removed is not an option.

While a crane can make tree work safer and more efficient, it’s important to have the tools and training to use them correctly.

6. Doing more work by hand can mean you offer a lower bid to a customer, even if the job may take a bit longer. Matt Bouchard, of Top Notch Landworks in New Hampshire, does use a compact track loader to move logs when he’s clearing land, but notes that big equipment can have a negative impact on the land around it.

Bouchard says that his approach as a tree services company as opposed to a logger is what gets him jobs.

7. For Emily Fisher of Missoula Tree Preservation, she chooses to climb because she has only just started her business. While it means she’s starting small and sticking to mostly pruning jobs, she’s still found success. “People often ask if I have a bucket truck, or where my chipper is going to park. I tell them that I’m sort of like a tree ninja – I show up with my truck and trailer, and you might not even know I’m there until I fire up my chain saw,” she says.

Emily Fisher has literally started her business from the ground up.

8. Climbing might be more preferable if there isn’t a lot of open space around the tree. “If equipment is going to really cramp up the area and slow down the process of getting debris out, then we’ll climb, just to give us that little bit of extra room that the truck would be taking up,” says Tim Edmonds of Edmonds Tree Service. Other reasons Edmonds chooses to climb would be when he doesn’t want to cut off a lot of unnecessary limbs just to get to a certain part of the tree.

For Edmonds, the decision to climb or not is all about gaining access