Trimming project -- how better to do the work?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by Roger, Oct 7, 2007.

  1. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,943

    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.






  2. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    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!
  3. carcrz

    carcrz LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,085

    Extended reach trimmer would do the trick. No ladder needed except for some minor touch-up on the top for a clean cut.
  4. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,943

    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.
  5. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    From what I see, ARE using the extended reach trimmer.
  6. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Former Moderator
    Messages: 6,073

    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.


  7. Southwest Lawns

    Southwest Lawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 51

    How long did it take for the 4 hemlocks. Great job BTW
  8. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,943

    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.

  9. DuallyVette

    DuallyVette LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,966

    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.
  10. SLC  LLC

    SLC LLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 667

    what do all of you recommend as the best extended reach trimmer? also, how do those stihl kombi units hold up?

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