Spurless Climbing

When faced with the task of hiring a tree service, clients often assume the tree climber will be using spurs. Spurs have been used for many years in the forestry industry. Because the arboriculture industry is newer to the West Coast than the forestry industry and many former foresters have begun working in the urban environment, this is a common misunderstanding.

However, spurs damage trees by leaving wounds open to decay, pests and disease. Spurs should only be used on trees slated for removal. Within the arboriculture industry, the accepted industry standard for climbing and moving around a tree is a method called spurless climbing.

Spurless climbing involves two dynamic rope systems that allow a person to move around a tree’s canopy and to access any part of the tree including the very tips of its branches. Using this system it is possible to properly prune trees no matter their size or location. (Learn more about why it is important to make proper pruning cuts.) Spurless climbing allows the climber to get in position to make those proper cuts without having to stretch, reach or use clumsy gear like pole-pruners and pole-saws.

By contrast, spurs do not allow the climber to access all parts of the tree because the climber on spurs is dependent on his spurs to stay in the tree and thus, must stay near the trunk. Companies that use spurs often get around this mobility issue by using ladders and boom trucks. Unfortunately, even with ladders and boom trucks the arborist often can’t get close enough to make proper pruning cuts. Large bucket trucks are limited in where they can reach. They can’t drive in on trail systems, tight spaces or on sensitive understory plants in parks and they don’t allow the arborist access to all parts of the tree’s canopy.

As the leaves fall, the beautiful spreading branches of deciduous trees are revealed. Though spurless climbing is suited to all trees, this time of year allows an excellent opportunity to view the natural form of deciduous trees and gives an idea of how a spurless climber might get around a large spreading canopy. A spurless climber can move around the tree using hands, feet and relying on their harness and ropes. The harness has a seat (similar to a window washer’s harness) as opposed to a traditional forestry-style belt that requires the climbers to put all of his weight on his spurs. Using this system it is possible to properly prune trees no matter their size or location.

Spurless climbing is fast, effective, safe, and doesn’t interfere with the tree’s health.

To protect your trees’ health and longevity, GROW Tree Care arborists specialize in spurless climbing. Whether you have young trees or heritage trees, we will prune them properly, quickly and safely with minimal impact to the trees’ health.

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