Anatomy of an Elm Removal

I’ve never blogged about my job as an arborist. I’m sure you know I’m in the tree care industry and own a (very) small business, Sycamore Tree Care. My idea for the name comes from the Bible. Zachius wanted to see Jesus as he was coming through town, so he climbed a sycamore tree. I figured any tree that someone climbs to see Jesus is a good tree for me. And as you’ll see, I’ve climbed some big trees.

So this is an elm tree on the east side of Madison (Academy Drive for those of you keeping score at home). On Wednesday this week I spent 5+ hours in this tree and we got probably 2/3 of it done. The pictures start with the second day.

So here’s the base and top of the tree – 24ft. ladder. It’s hard to get an idea how big it is until you see me in it. The line I’m attached to is my climb line. The red line is what I’m climbing on and the blue line is our lowering line. The winch system from the first picture helps us to lift limbs that are over the power lines.

When I got into position the second day, I looked to the west and found the Capital building between two oak trees. People, this is a view no one sees except climbing arborists, and trust me – the pictures don’t do it justice. Click on these and blow them up – the second one has an arrow of the building)

So I spent another five hours in the tree and finally, I’m done with all the branches. Just wood to deal with now.


I’d love to show you the 31 pictures I took of Mike making the notch and bringing this 66 year old elm to the ground, but I’ll spare you the details and give you the highlights.

The notch is cut.

The rope actually helps us pull that big thing over (est. at over 10,000 pounds).

(click on this picture to see the rope)

Eric tells Mike how much further to go on his back-cut. If the saw gets meets (and violates) the notch, the tree could go backwards (not good).

Perfect notch, perfect cut, good pull – the anatomy of an elm removal.

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