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View Full Version : Trimming project -- how better to do the work?


Roger
10-07-2007, 06:11 PM
I don't do much bush trimming, perhaps only about 50-60 hours per season. One customer has had us trim his large hemlocks every other year. Each year, I wonder if there is a better way.

Below I have pics of the project of yesterday. The house is a small home, with the plantings being very old. The primary difficulty is in trimming four Canadian Hemlock. Yes, they are old, way beyond their life, but that is what they have. Don't bother about suggesting to replace or take out -- our job was to trim them. I know some object to shearing, but that is the only choice for these bushes.

There are four of them, front right corner, along the right side, right rear corner, and front left. I have a Stihl HS80 24" trimmer, and a Stihl FS85, with a 22" hedge clipper attachment (0 degree model). Most of the work on the hemlock was done with the FS85, having the long reach.

I have three ladders, a 6 ft step, an 8 ft step, and a 12 ft step (homemade 20 years ago). It is very stable, but very heavy to move and transport. The problem is reaching all of the top areas of the hemlock.

Other plant materials, such as yew hedges, bayberry bushes, etc were trimmed too, but my focus here is on the large hemlock.

I am looking for suggestions to make the task easier and faster. It was a hot day yesterday, and this job was a huge energy sink with the handling of the long-shafted trimmer and handling the ladders. Don't bother to make suggestions about the plantings.

Here is a sampling of images I took. I have many more, so if something is unclear, ask and I can upload others.

Thanks.

Runner
10-07-2007, 06:41 PM
Nope. I think you're pretty much doing it. One thing I don't understand is the trash barrel. I sometimes see guys using these, and wonder why people waste all that work wrestling with those, and trying to funnel everything into them. Tarps are WAY faster and easier to use. you have a much broader area to work onto, and they are actually easier to handle to dump into the truck (as long as they're not overloaded). Nice job on the shrubs, by the way!

carcrz
10-07-2007, 06:44 PM
Extended reach trimmer would do the trick. No ladder needed except for some minor touch-up on the top for a clean cut.

Roger
10-08-2007, 09:17 AM
Runner, ... point taken on the barrel. Usually I do use tarps for debris. I have some 7X7, white polypropolyne (sp?) tarps that have been used often for bush trimmings and grass clippings. The tarps could have been used here, but using two barrels seemed to work best. My wife was helping with the cleanup and she could clean up more quickly than I could trim, and she could drag the barrels to the trailer. I just dumped them when I had to go to the trailer for refueling, oiling, etc. She cannot handle the tarps. This is the first time all season the barrels were taken along.

But, as a general practice, you are right about the tarps.

carcrz -- how long are the extended reach trimmers? And, how heavy, and how difficult to handle?

Maybe I am just getting more impatient in my older years, thinking I should be able to finish these jobs quicker and easier. The ladders seem to get heavier and the effort to get up/down many times took its toll by the end of the project. Other trim jobs we do annually seem to go better because we have done them many times and have found work sequences, ladder placements, etc that work well. They can be remembered from year to year (maybe with the help of some digital images!), so that little time is spent considering "... what do I need to do to reach this place?" This trim job is requested every other year, and the lack of familiarity makes each visit a new venture. Further, the growth of two years is more difficult to manage. Maybe in two years I will bow out, letting somebody else take a shot. The owners have lived in this house for 48 years, yes, 48 years. He cuts his own grass, plays golf a few times each week, but does not do any trimming. His wife keeps telling me "I used to trim all these bushes." Perhaps that is true, but not at the size they have been allowed to grow! Maybe they were six or eight feet high, but not 12-14 feet.

Runner
10-08-2007, 11:56 AM
From what I see,...you ARE using the extended reach trimmer.

1MajorTom
10-14-2007, 10:00 PM
You did a really good job. I can see that job being very difficult even for a young stud workhorse
like me. :hammerhead:
My only suggestion would be getting a Stihl KM110 Kombi with shaft extension if you are looking to add to your arsenal. It would give you an extra 37 inches.
Plus the 135 degree head gives you tons of flexibility. Then you just need the ladders for the tops of the bushes.
If you had the Kombi, not only could you have the hedge trimmer attachments, there are multiple attachments to choose from, making it very versitile. Right now the extension isn't on this one.

Matt

Southwest Lawns
10-14-2007, 11:04 PM
How long did it take for the 4 hemlocks. Great job BTW

Roger
10-15-2007, 10:42 PM
How long did it take for the 4 hemlocks. Great job BTW

There was more trimming on the job than just the four hemlocks. However, the rest of the bushes were easy by comparison (bayberry, boxwoods, yew hedge, privet, etc).

The first three each took about an hour to complete, perhaps 3.5 hours for all three. The last one, the one next to the driveway was more challenging. We spent at least 1.5 hours on it. But, included was a burning bush that was growing between the house and the hemlock. These times included cleanup, but not by me. I spent my time with the trimmer, and moving ladders.

The hemlocks are what I call the "80/20" or "90/10" tasks, 80 percent of the time in setup, 20 percent of the time trimming.

Thanks.

DuallyVette
10-15-2007, 11:20 PM
The ladder that you made is nice, but I think that its weight makes the task MUCH more difficult. An Aluminum ladder would make it easier. I have fiberglass ladders. I bent up an aluminum one years ago on unlevel ground. A helper for repositioning the ladder will make it go easier.

SLC, LLC
10-16-2007, 12:04 PM
what do all of you recommend as the best extended reach trimmer? also, how do those stihl kombi units hold up?

Guzman Properties
10-16-2007, 12:42 PM
I currently have a Shindaiwa with a hedger and pole saw attachments. Works great, just gets heavy after a while when your on a ladder extending your arms.

Roger
10-16-2007, 09:54 PM
The ladder that you made is nice, but I think that its weight makes the task MUCH more difficult. An Aluminum ladder would make it easier. I have fiberglass ladders. I bent up an aluminum one years ago on unlevel ground. A helper for repositioning the ladder will make it go easier.

Your observations are exactly right. I made the ladder more than 20 years ago. It started as a spreadsheet challenge -- creating all the equations with the appropriate angles so that all pieces could be cut to the right length and right angle. At that time I was looking for a ladder to be used around the house for some trimming. New ones were very expensive, and making this one was much less costly. Now, since I am doing commercial work, I never forked over the money for a fiberglass one. If I knew I was going to be in the business for a few more years, I would do so. But, at 66, I'm not sure how many years I have left and I would not be able to wear out a new ladder.

This homemade one is heavy, but is very, very stable. I have to assemble and disassemble when I move and store it. Nothing about it collapses, except the person carrying it!

I have seen a homeowner with an orchard ladder for his bush trimming. They are expensive, but are easily moved and are very stable. They have a single front leg, and a very wide leg spread on the step side of the ladder. Being intended for orchard use, they are easily moved from place to place. Having only three legs, they are more easily leveled when working on uneven terrain.

Here is one link: (I am sure there are many)

http://www.ladderking.com/1100.htm

Note the weight of a 12 ft ladder!

McFarland_Lawn_Care
10-16-2007, 10:05 PM
Sorry, I DON'T want to steal this post, but very curious as to the black plastic bar that sticks out by the handle on the Stihl that MajorTom posted. One came with my Stihl trimmers and I had NO clue what they were for?? thanks...!!

Jason

mattfromNY
10-16-2007, 10:13 PM
I've used 'multiple task' ladders that bend several different ways, I'll try to show what I mean: __ /\___
/ \

Not sure what heights they come in, but the one I've used will easily get you over top of a smaller growing shrub, and up at least 10 feet (your shoulder height at 10 feet). Just a little less use of the extended trimmer, to save your shoulders and back. They are aluminum, not very heavy, and I rent the one I use from the local rental place for about $20.00/ day. Just make sure you get it pretty stable on the ground, sometimes in a mulch bed it is hard to find firm footing.

mattfromNY
10-16-2007, 10:14 PM
The bottom /\ things in the above post are supposed to be legs of the ladder, not sure what happened to my post.

DuallyVette
10-16-2007, 10:24 PM
The Orchard ladder looks like a winner.

gene gls
10-16-2007, 10:35 PM
I don't do much bush trimming, perhaps only about 50-60 hours per season. One customer has had us trim his large hemlocks every other year. Each year, I wonder if there is a better way.

Below I have pics of the project of yesterday. The house is a small home, with the plantings being very old. The primary difficulty is in trimming four Canadian Hemlock. Yes, they are old, way beyond their life, but that is what they have. Don't bother about suggesting to replace or take out -- our job was to trim them. I know some object to shearing, but that is the only choice for these bushes.

There are four of them, front right corner, along the right side, right rear corner, and front left. I have a Stihl HS80 24" trimmer, and a Stihl FS85, with a 22" hedge clipper attachment (0 degree model). Most of the work on the hemlock was done with the FS85, having the long reach.

I have three ladders, a 6 ft step, an 8 ft step, and a 12 ft step (homemade 20 years ago). It is very stable, but very heavy to move and transport. The problem is reaching all of the top areas of the hemlock.

Other plant materials, such as yew hedges, bayberry bushes, etc were trimmed too, but my focus here is on the large hemlock.

I am looking for suggestions to make the task easier and faster. It was a hot day yesterday, and this job was a huge energy sink with the handling of the long-shafted trimmer and handling the ladders. Don't bother to make suggestions about the plantings.

Here is a sampling of images I took. I have many more, so if something is unclear, ask and I can upload others.

Thanks.

I use an Echo Pole Pruner with the adjustable cutter head. It will reach around 12' from the ground. There is a 5' extention available to reach around 17'. Its a gut buster with the extention on. You still have to do some ladder work on shrubs with a large diameter at the top. I hate messing with ladders.