Problem tree removal is quite often hazardous to climbers and nearby structures. To prevent needless injury or property damage, we have developed a process as well as a strategy for handling almost any situation we encounter. There hasn't been a single job yet that we haven't been able to overcome with these methods.

General Methodology

Mike Green, owner of Hitman Tree LLC, stripping the limbs from a tree on his way up meant to show the first stage of tree removal.

When taking down a tree, we leave the tree standing while we strip the limbs on the way up, and chunk the tree's trunk on the way down. This method is faster, safer, and less expensive than dropping the tree whole. The key to this method is the use of a zip line, which is a line secured to the tree that is used to control the descent of limbs to the ground. One or more straps are fastened to each limb and then attached to the line via carabiners. Weather conditions, even wind, are generally not a factor when the use of a zip line is employed. Gravity moves each branch towards the chipper making it easier for the ground crew to do their work.

We use ten different zip techniques, each with a specific purpose. Three different belays which includes one exquisite Hinge Belay are added to the mix. When we use the above techniques with our special High Tie we end up with an efficient dismantling system. Tight-quarter work is fast and easy. After topping, the climber will then chunk the tree into sixteen inch rounds which are dropped into a predetermined zone at the base of the tree. A corral, or a stacked circle of rounds, is erected to contain the rounds that follow. In some situations, we simply catch the rounds with our dump truck. While the trunk is being cut the rest of the crew continues site cleanup. Everyone stays busy. It is an intricate dance and entertaining to watch.

Zip Techniques

A limb, attached to a zipline via carabiner for greater control, is zipped out of a tree towards a safe landing zone.

Regular Zip

Our go to standard when we simply want to move the limbs from the tree towards the chipper. There is often plenty of room. The momentum swing or initial 2 second drop of the branch is not an issue. The branch flags under the line and comes down softly to the ground.

Free Zip

When a light branch is placed on top of the zip line without a strap. No hazards are present. Nothing can be damaged if the branch falls off. We use this to save strapping and unstrapping time when possible.

Rapid Zip

When we send down numerous smaller branches in rapid-fire succession after an initial setup period where the climber straps many branches to the line at once.

Catch Zip

Used when handling lower branches. The line is intentionally placed under the branch before cutting so the branch rides higher. This allows for low cutting control over landscaping so that bushes & plants are not damaged.

Guarded Zip

Used when hazards such as power lines, structures or other delicate trees need extra protection. Guard limbs are left in place for this purpose so zipped limbs can bump if necessary. A pull knot is often used with this technique.

Mike Green, owner of Hitman Tree LLC, prepares to zip several branches out of a tree.

Wrap Zip

Used to stop the swing of a branch and move it to an outside position away from hazards after it is cut. The zip line is attached to the backside of the tree and wraps away. Natural Stops are used which take advantage of hold wood at the trunk.

Guided Zip

Often used while working Maples or other deciduous trees. When removing limbs groups from inside the canopy, a regular zip allows branches to flag down and hang up on other limbs which can be problematic. With this technique straps are placed on both ends of the branch to be cut. This allows the branch to be guided through the tangle of uncut branches without getting stuck.

Hinge Zip

Used to direct larger limbs from the side or back positions of the tree. It is facilitated by our unique High Tie which allows us to quickly and safely traverse a branch, place a strap three fifths of the way out and attach to the zip line for control.

Stop Zip

Used when either a Stop Strap or Natural Stop is needed to control the swing momentum or initial two second drop period before the branch travels down the zip line. This is crucial when the branch would otherwise act in an undesirable way if allowed to carry through with its intial swing.

Topping Zip

This allows us to send the tops down quickly and place minimal stress at the tie off point. A leverage knot and locking carabiner are often used. The climber feels minimal, if any, movement at the top of the tree if all goes as it should.

Belay Techniques

A large limb is belayed out of a tree and guided by one of the crew of Hitman Tree for greater control and reduced risk of property damage.

End-line Belay

Meant for use with light limbs which are typically closer to the ground. In this instance, zips are problematic and a belay is a no-brainer for quick set up and controlled lowering. The end of the line is passed through a strap which is placed above the branch to be worked. It is then attached to the branch to be cut. A Rescue Figure 8 is often used for lowering control. There is no mechanical advantage with this particular technique.

Mid-line Belay

These have a Figure 8 knot and the running part of the down line secured by straps to a limb on the tree. A strap is then attached to the limb to be cut at the bight between the other two secured points. Because there is a two to one mechanical advantage, heavier limbs can be handled this way with ease. Straps are double, tripled or quadrupled depending on anticipated jerk load forces. A Rescue Figure 8 or Port-a-Wrap is always used with this technique.

Hinge Belay

Used to turn and control large limbs from hazards with absolute control. It is also facilitated by our unique High Tie which allows us to quickly and safely traverse a branch, place straps three fifths of the way out and clip carabiners to the slack side of our personal belay. A tag line is connected to the straps on the limb for lateral control. Sliding back to the main trunk the climber resets his flip line, releases his belay and connect the down line to a Rescue Figure 8 or Port-a-Wrap for vertical control.