View Full Version : Those of you that climb trees...

08-06-2010, 08:44 PM
What resources were most useful to you in learning? I spent 6 hours today and got 2 fixtures replaced in a tree and 1 lamp replaced before I managed to get my throw weight stuck. I'm going to take the guy I normally pay to climb trees back with me to finish this service call but I want to be able to do this myself in less time and with more to show for it than 3 fixtures and 5 blisters.

08-06-2010, 11:26 PM
A lift/bucket truck. And LEDS. I also have a 40 ft ladder that comes in handy. How high up are you going?

The Lighting Geek
08-06-2010, 11:43 PM
I do not know your skill set in this area, so I am not passing judgment here. I might be stating the obvious here, but I would rather cover this carefully for the safety of anyone even thinking of climbing trees.

I would recommend you pay a Certified Tree Worker to work with you and critique your technique. The bad thing about tree climbing is that mistakes are often cause serious injury if not death. You need to KNOW how to do everything with your eyes closed, because if something goes wrong you need to be quick, and precise. If you have to think about it, it is probably not going to end well. You also have to use the right equipment. Recreational tree climbing gear is not appropriate. you should use arborist rates rope, gear, and helmet. I am new at it as well and I have friends who climb everyday, are certified in aerial rescue, and have a wealth of information about what they do. You should always have 2 climbers present so one can rescue the other. This is a mandatory procedure in most tree companies. Never climb alone, it is like scuba diving alone. Just don't do it. If it goes badly for you it might hours before someone knows you are in trouble. Even when you know what you are doing, stuff can happen. You have to be prepared for the worst. Tree climbing is not something to be taken lightly, but done right it is a blast.

08-07-2010, 12:06 AM

08-09-2010, 01:59 PM
I completely agree with Tommy... except I don't climb. At my age, I know my limits and believe I'm most valuable (alive) on the ground collaborating with climbers.

Your best ally in the Landscape Lighting Design/Installation business is a well-trained and safety conscious pair of Certified Arborists. They can offer you options for the best downlight positions that may not be reachable by ladder and they can bring the wire down in hidden ways that would require moving a ladder many times.

A lift is a good idea if the tree you are using is safely accessed by heavy machinery. I've found them very useful when working in tree-lined road/driveways. Even then, I've found it handy to use the lift to quickly put an arborist in the tree with their ropes and "bring down" the wire inconspicuously on the "back-side" of the tree.

Certified Arborists are also able to advise you as the the health of the tree, the health of the specific branch you want to use and how quickly the specific species of tree grows. With that information, you are able to schedule regular maintenance visits to loosen the attached luminaires and wire to allow the tree to grow safely. This is often a good time to perform group relamping if you are using incandescent lamps.


Oh, one other indispensable tool is a quality laser pointer. I use a green sighting laser (AimSHOT) designed for hunting and target shooting. The precise and bright green dote helps the Arborist to see exactly where I would like a luminaire to hang in the tree. 1 laser is worth 10 thousand words.

The Lighting Geek
08-09-2010, 09:42 PM
Oh come on Tom, there is nothing like saying, "the second small branch past that large Y. No not that small branch, the next one." LOL

You are absolutely right on the bill of health a Certified Arborist can offer your client and possibly make you rethink your plan if the tree is in bad shape health wise or the branch you need to mount to should be removed to save the tree.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
08-10-2010, 01:42 AM
The only negative of using arborists and tree climbers for installing tree mounted downlights is the expense. It is not just the expense of having the fixture installed by a specialized sub trade but also the expense of having to hire them back to do all the service work. Suddenly a $25 relamp charge becomes a $100+ relamp charge.

For me here, it is simply not an option. Over 70% of our systems are tree mounted fixtures and the cost would simply be prohibitive, both for installation and service. (although I might consider hiring a certified climber, but think that they might get bored with the work)

instead I have taken and enrolled my staff in tree climbing courses, ladder courses, and fall arrest/protection courses. They are certified for using the ladders and I provide all of the safety equipment necessary.

08-10-2010, 02:44 PM
Oh come on Tom, there is nothing like saying, "the second small branch past that large Y. No not that small branch, the next one." LOL

The most fun is when the arborist calls down "Oh... THAT large Y over there... I'll have to reset my rope first."


08-10-2010, 04:20 PM
The problem with using arborists, or climbers for that matter, in this area is that they're already busier than they want to be if they're any good so they then become either VERY expensive, especially if you only have 2 - 3 trees that need to be dealt with, or unreliable. I don't like being at the mercy of others. If they aren't me or my employees, I don't have enough control to schedule in a way that's convenient to me. Take today, for example, I had the guy I've used for climbign scheduled to meet me at the property at noon today since last week. Even talked to him this morning to confirm. He didn't show or call and his cell phone is temporarily unavailable so I'm left at a job site with my a$$ hanging out and looking like an idiot. When that happens, I want to be able to do the job myself. Unfortunately, I can't find any local tree climbing courses so I'm left more or less to my own devices...

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
08-10-2010, 10:46 PM
Perhaps the AOLP should look into offering us lighting contractors tree climbing, ladder, and fall arrest training and certification. This would be a great draw to gain more members!

08-10-2010, 11:02 PM
Ok James....you get to lead the first class at the next conference in Arizona. Hmm looks like you are going to have to demonstrate on a Saguaro cactus! :)

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
08-10-2010, 11:34 PM
No No, not me Keith!!! Any training in such things would have to be done by CERTIFIED trainers! I bet it would be a popular program.

08-16-2010, 01:09 PM
Im sure many have already looked at this site but I found some useful info on here a few years back - www.treeclimbing.com
I bought a basic tree climbing dvd on there that helped us out.
Im very fortunate to have a guy on our crew that is a very good climber. I can do it myself but prefer being on the ground making sure of placement. No matter what - moon lighting is a two person job.


08-16-2010, 07:16 PM
I got Peter Jenkins DVD last week. It was helpful, told me I was mostly doing it correctly, just needed more practice.

08-16-2010, 09:10 PM

For that reason and others is why I bought this 42' towable lift. Had nothing to do with me turning 49!

David Gretzmier
08-17-2010, 01:08 AM
That lift looks...not heavy? is the hitch ball and the two outriggers the only bracing?

08-17-2010, 09:07 PM
No it has 4 outriggers, it is a older bil jax I bought this spring. It is around 4k lbs. It is a 42', it is around 25' in the picture.

08-17-2010, 10:37 PM
I used to climb trees, and prefered to use a ladder to get in the tree if possible over using a trow line. I would use the pole saw 14 or 16 ft. to get my rope over the next branch.