• ljmarkson

A Dead Tree Branch Story

Last month I happened to notice a dead branch on a large pine tree in my front yard. Through my binoculars I could see a huge 20 or so foot branch had broken off and was somehow balanced precariously on another branch. Yikes! I immediately called a tree service that has a reputation for safely doing tree work without using heavy yard damaging equipment.

This shows how disconnected the large branch was from the tree trunk - I'm not sure how long it was there or why it didn't fall to the ground!

I missed meeting the owner of the service when he stopped by, but he reassured me when he called that he understood my concerns and that his crew would have as little impact as possible on my rewilded yard. I’m pretty sure he also upcharged us a bit but my husband and I decided we needed that branch down asap. We also agreed there was no amount anyone could pay us to do this kind of work for a living so maybe the price wasn’t that crazy!

Tree work is one of the most dangerous jobs!

The tree service owner unwittingly gave me an insight into why so many of the pine trees in my neighborhood have a bit of a lollipop look to them. He offered to limb up the branches on the pine tree. When I asked why I would possibly do this to perfectly healthy branches he said they might also break off one day. I lightly replied that this didn’t make any sense because all trees drop branches at some point, and I would just cut all the branches off the mature trees in my yard if this was my worry.

This is what many pine trees around me look like. This tree on my street has been sadly limbed up many times.

The next morning, I woke up to the commotion of six men in my yard throwing ropes into the pine tree. There were also a few neighbors on their lawns who were probably wondering why the neighborhood tree hugger was cutting down a tree. I ran out in my robe to make sure there wasn’t a miscommunication, and they weren’t planning on taking down the tree! The head of the crew explained the whole crew travels to every job regardless of size, and I was just the first stop of the day.

Before I went running outside in my jammies, I wonder if any of my neighbors who know I'm a nut about making sure anyone who cuts down trees has a permit checked to see if I had a permit to cut down a tree when two trucks and a crew showed up and started throwing ropes in my pine tree!

I continued to be as unobtrusive as possible but attentive to the process. I had already made the tough decision to let one of the workers use climbing spikes. The branch was low and dangling in such a precarious position that there was a lack of options if I didn’t want them using a lift that would have torn up a sizeable chunk of my small rewilded front yard. It was amusing to see the worker smoke a cigarette before climbing the tree and again when he reached the branch. I was on the phone with a friend when he did this and she laughed that she'd probably have a cigarette and a drink if she had one of the most dangerous jobs in America! Fair point.

It must take a certain personality to climb trees for a living. I didn't get a photo of him smoking, but asked this guy if it was okay to take his photo while he was climbing the tree and he actually stopped climbing to pose for me! I stopped after this because I didn't want to distract the crew.

Once the worker who climbed the tree attached it to ropes, all the workers helped guide the huge branch safely to the ground. When the woodchipper pulled up, I asked that the branch instead be cut into pieces small enough for me to carry. They assumed the only reason I might want this done was for firewood and neatly cut and stacked small logs for me! I also told them to leave the side branches as they were. I imagine they thought this was for kindling...

You can see some of the stacked logs behind this pile of side branches.

I think the head of the crew ultimately understood where I was coming from because when they were done, he asked if I had an electric blower to clean up with instead of their gas powered blower. I don't like any kind of leaf blowers anywhere near my yard so asked if the sawdust could be swept. I'm guessing this is not a typical request because the crew had a big laugh when he handed my push broom to one of the workers to sweep the driveway.


Hopefully, my diligence helped impact the nature in my yard as little as possible. I apologized to the tree for the trauma and said a little healing prayer for the handful of wounds from those spikes. I refreshed my largest brush pile with the thin pinecone covered side branches.

I'm sure all the birds and critters that live in and around this brush pile were happy for the additional branches!

I put the mini pine logs along the back fence to add to my yard’s wildlife habitat. The dead branch will continue to contribute to a healthy ecosystem by adding shelter and food to all life in the yard from the tiniest insect decomposers to the squirrels that eat the fungus growing on the logs.

This is a small section of logs I placed along a back fence. I've since seen chipmunks and squirrels around it!

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