Late winter to early spring is the best time to trim and prune trees. Some trees can be pruned or trimmed from the ground, but larger trees need to be trimmed using ropes to reach the higher branches. There are several modern rope tools are available that make pruning and trimming trees easier.
Rope saws use a steel chain blade (essentially a length of chain-saw blade), two lengths of rope tied to either side of the place, and a throwing weight. Rope saws are used from the ground, making climbing the tree unnecessary. To use, toss the throwing weight over the limb to be trimmed and pull the ropes back and forth (the cutting edge of the blade will automatically adjust to the correct side with the sawing motion. The U.S. Forestry Service notes that rope saws vary by number of teeth and blade thickness, among other features. The Forestry Service recommends using two different colors of rope to increase visibility of the line and saw position. One or two people can operate the saws, depending on the size of the limb to be trimmed; for safety, the saws is operated at an angle rather than directly below the branch to be cut.
Never tug on a branch roughly as it may brake and fall towards the operator. Eye protection and hard hats are recommended for protection. Keep the area under the tree clear and watch for falling branches.
Pole pruners have a long pole section with a cutting head on one end and a long rope attached to operate the cutting head. The poles can be made from wood, plastic, metal or fiberglass. Cutting heads come in a variety of sizes and blade types. Pole pruners are often more difficult to operate than rope saws, but can be faster for trimming twigs. Strength and dexterity are required to hold and maneuver the pole and operate the rope-activated cutting shears. You can use a cross branch for support to steady the pole and make cutting easier. Pole pruners can be operated by two people, one to hold the pole and one to pull the rope and operate the cutting head.
For safety, hard hats and eye protection is advised. Make sure the area around the branches is clear and never use pole pruners around power lines.
Climbing ropes come in various sizes and styles. They are used with a climbing harness and other ger to ensure the trimmer's safety in case of a fall. The harness and rope are generally used to prevent the trimmer from dangerous falls; climbing the tree involves other equipment, such as rigging rope (described below). California State University-Bakersfield tree climbing recommendations are that the rope be at least a half-inch thick, have at least three or four strands of high-grade material, and have a nominal breaking strength of at least 2,300 lbs. Climbing ropes need to be inspected before each climb to ensure the rope is free from damage, and it should be replaced frequently, as age and use can weaken the ropes.
Rigging rope is not the same as climbing rope. Rigging rope is the attached around the trunk of the tree and the climbing rope is attached to the rigging rope. Rigging rope is necessary to provide a safe rigging structure for climbing equipment.