How to Cut Tree Limbs That Are Too High to Reach

How to Cut Tree Limbs That Are Too High to Reach

Whether you’re new to trimming trees or a regular with a green thumb, you’re going to come across a branch that’s out of your reach. Before you fold your step-ladder and call it a day, you’d be elated to know that there are a number of ways you can cut that high hanging tree limb.

Don’t worry, you won’t have to climb all the way up or build a tower with buckets, our guide only consists of effective and affordable tips.

In this article, we’ll be showing you how to cut tree limbs that are too high to reach in three easy ways using tools you might already have.

Before we get into our tutorial, we’ll take you through the basics of tree trimming, including precautions and our advice for easier cutting. So, let’s get into the details.


What to Know Before Cutting Tree Limbs/Branches

Tree branches may seem easy to just hack off with a saw, but they’re much more finicky and can cause injuries if not cut properly. Here’s what you should look out for when trimming high hanging tree limbs –

Look for Cable Lines, Nests, Weak Limbs

Observe the surroundings of the branches you want to work on. If there are any overhead power lines, nests, or animals perched on the branches, you will either have to work around them or call a professional. Nests or beehives can be removed if you have the proper equipment for it, otherwise, you’ll have to contact an expert.

Grab onto the tree and give it a firm shake. If you see the branches swaying a lot or starting to fall off, it’s a sign that they are weak and cannot be climbed on. For weak branches, always use high reaching cutting tools instead of climbing.

Choose the Right Time

Trees can get infested with wild animals or become subject to diseases which can in return harm you. This is why it’s best to cut branches during the winter. It is during this time that most tree animals go into hibernation and the trees become dormant. Meaning, they cannot be stricken with diseases at this time.

Also, make sure you pick a time of day when it’s sunny out, is not raining or very windy. If there’s thick snow everywhere, it’s likely you’ll injure yourself from cutting down heavy branches coated in ice.

Plan a Landing Spot for the Branches

Lay out mats, nets, or an old bed sheet that you can use to drag away the fallen limbs. It will be very difficult to drag branches across dirt and grass using nothing but your hands. Plus, the offshoots might snag on to the ground and make it even more difficult for you to drag it away.

Wear Appropriate Attire

Put on comfortable clothes that you can work in, making sure they aren’t too loose for any branches to snag onto. Wear thick boots, protective goggles, a helmet, gloves, and a mask (if you have respiratory issues). If you plan on using a high-powered tool, such as a saw machine, put on noise reduction ear muffs.

Use the Right Tool

Even though most power tools are promoted as useful on wood, it does not mean they can be used for trimming tree limbs, especially high hanging ones. Handheld power tools, such as chainsaws or circular saws, are commonly used by arborists and not inexperienced people

If you’re not a professional, you need to use a different set of tools. We discuss this further in our next section.

What to Use for Cutting Tree Limbs/Branches

As we’ve already mentioned, only professional arborists have the expertise to use handheld power tools to cut high hanging branches. They also use a bucket lift with the help of ropes and harnesses for this task.

Since these aren’t widely accessible to everyone, you should stick to these convenient cutting tools when learning how to trim tall tree limbs without climbing –

Pole Saw

A pole saw is simply an angled rectangular saw attached to a long-reaching pole. Most pole saws can be up to 10 feet long and either manual or engine-driven. These are the easiest to use and provide a quick and sufficient cut.

Pole Pruner

Similar to a pole saw, a pole pruner has two blades that bypass each other at the cutting head, which is attached to a pole. The curved blade is hooked onto the branch, then the rope is tugged backwards to bring down the blade, cutting off the branch.


These are basically tree cutting scissors. They are the simplest to use of all the tools we’ve mentioned, and are easy to use. Loppers can be upto 32 inches or longer depending on the label. However, they are mostly used for trimming small branches and sizing bushes.

How to Cut Tree Limbs That Are Too High to Reach — Step by Step

If you don’t have any of the tools we’ve mentioned within your access, don’t fret – our guide will help you to cut down high hanging branches with supplies you might already have. So, here’s step by step on how to cut tree limbs that are too high to reach –

What you will need –

  • Small sized plastic bottle (250ml or 300ml)
  • Twine
  • 1” x 12 ft lashing straps
  • Pocket chain saw

Step 1 – Prepare the Weight

For this task, you will have to throw the makeshift “saw” over the branch to cut it, which cannot be done without a weight. You can use a dog toy or a foam ball as weight to throw over the line, but a water bottle is more effective.

Simply fill a 250ml or 300ml plastic bottle with water and tie the end of your roll of twine to its neck.

Step 2 – Cast the Line Over the Branch

Grab the bottle, and throw it over the branch you want to start with. This might take a couple tries, but don’t lose hope. You can even get a step ladder to help you aim better.

Make sure to not hold the roll of twine as well, as the twine will need to extend to the height of the branch.

Step 3 – Construct the Saw

Attach the ends of the lashing straps to the handles of the pocket saw. Since the saw will be pulled back and forth, it needs to be tied securely to the lashing straps.

To ensure the pocket saw will not fall off, use the twine to tie around the area where the lashing straps are attached to it. Do this several times so that the twine is “cocooned” around the attachments.

Step 4 – Connect the Saw to the Twine

Now, cut the twine that’s cast over the branch off the roll. Take the end of it and tie it to one of the ends of the lashing strap saw. Once it’s secured, go over to the other side of the branch where the weight is and pull forwards on the twine tied to it. You should see the makeshift saw lifting onto the branch.

Once the saw is directly over the part of the branch you want to cut, stop pulling the twine.

Step 5 – Cut the Limb

Start pulling each of the straps back and forth using both your hands. This will create friction between the saw and the branch and cut through it. Unfortunately, this will take some time, but as long as you pull on the straps tightly and move them in a steady motion, the branch will be off in no time.

If you’re confused about a step or need further clarification on some details, you can check out this video where this method is shown clearly.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How high can you climb a tree?

You can climb a tree as high as it is as long as you’re confident about it. However, there are trees with weak branches as well as animals living in them. So, make sure to do a little research on the type of tree you’re working with before you decide to climb it.

2. How often should I have my tree limbs cut and how many times a year is enough?

On average, you should be trimming your trees every 3 to 5 years (2 to 3 if the tree is young) or whenever the branches get too unruly. For fruit trees, arborists recommend cutting their branches yearly so that they can produce new fruit quickly.

3. What is the best time to cut off branches?

During winter is the best time to cut off branches. It is when tree animals go into hibernation and the tree itself becomes dormant, meaning it is no longer susceptible to diseases.

4. How to trim tall tree limbs without climbing?

You can use a variety of tools such as a pole saw, a pole pruner, a pair of loppers, or construct a makeshift saw using a pocket saw and some lashing straps. For more details, check out our section on How to Cut Tree Limbs That Are Too High to Reach — Step by Step.

5. How do you cut high branches off with a chainsaw?

High branches can be cut off using a chainsaw with the help of a bucket lift or step ladder, depending on how high the branches are.


That brings us to the end of our guide on how to cut tree limbs that are too high to reach. Hopefully we’ve equipped you with enough information to take on this task with confidence.

Remember, this guide is not meant for thick branches. Big tree limbs should always be handled by a trained arborist.

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