Why are Cranes and Bucket Trucks Used for Tree Removals?

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When you schedule a tree removal with Independent Tree, you may be surprised to see a variety of trucks and equipment show up on the day, including a tree crane and/or a bucket truck.

Tree care companies have been using tree cranes and bucket trucks for years to tackle many tree removal jobs, but not everyone is familiar with these pieces of tree care equipment or understands how valuable they can be during many types of removals.

In this article, we’ll answer some common questions about tree removals using a crane or a bucket truck, will go over the basics of different tree removal methods, and will explain why a crane or bucket truck may be used for some tree removals.

The Independent Tree crane is used to remove a large section of a tree at an industrial setting in Northeast Ohio.

What is a Tree Crane?

Unlike cranes that are used in construction work, tree cranes are part of a vehicle, allowing us to drive the crane to each tree removal job site. The tree crane is parked on a sturdy location, such as a driveway, street, or lawn, and then properly balanced.

Many of our customers are surprised that this part of the process can take some time, but the crane needs to be stable to prevent the crane from tipping and to ensure that it can move the extremely heavy sections of a tree during the removal. Once the crane is set up, however, the tree is removed fairly quickly!

The arm or boom of the crane can extend to reach tall trees or hard-to-reach locations, and a crane operator works with the climbing crew and ground crew to move sections of the tree as it is cut into pieces and removed.

An Independent Tree worker uses a bucket truck to reach a tree and then uses a chainsaw to cut sections for removal.

What is a Bucket Truck?

A bucket truck is a vehicular piece of equipment similar to what you may have seen utility companies use to lift a worker to powerlines. Sometimes referred to as a boom truck, bucket trucks allow Independent Tree workers to be safely lifted off the ground to reach out-of-the-way areas that can’t be reached by a ladder.

The name “boom” comes from the boom lift that can reach upwards of 50 feet. Bucket trucks work well in our environment because they can maneuver in smaller spaces and access trees closer to houses and other buildings. We use it often for both tree removals and tree pruning.

An Independent Tree worker uses a chainsaw to cut up a tree that was felled on a Northeastern Ohio property.

Four Common Tree Removal Methods

Felling is a method to remove trees seen often in forestry, where an entire tree is cut at the bottom and allowed to fall in any direction. While felling is a simple way to remove smaller trees, it can be extremely dangerous for larger trees, especially on properties with buildings, powerlines, or other trees nearby.

When a tree is felled, the tree can fall in any direction, 360 degrees. It has the capacity to reach twice as far as it is high, so a large area must be free of any people, vehicles, or anything else that can be hurt or damaged.

While steps may be taken to try to control which way a tree falls, it is not guaranteed to fall where expected. Additionally, the cut section of a tree can often buckle backward, injuring anyone nearby.

Tree felling may be used for smaller or midsize trees or trees on large, open properties.

Climbing is when a tree climber climbs or is lifted into a tree and cuts and removes sections of a tree from the top down. This method allows more control than felling a tree. Independent Tree uses this method often.

Using a bucket truck is similar to climbing, but the tree worker is in the bucket while cutting and removing sections of a tree. A bucket truck may be used to allow the tree worker more visibility of the tree or if a tree is brittle or dangerous. Independent Tree has a large bucket truck that allows us to reach many trees for tree removals.

Finally, tree removals using a crane utilize a crane to lift a climber into the tree and then work with the climber to move the large sections of the tree to the ground as they are cut.

Independent Tree may use any or all of these methods during a tree removal on your Ohio property.

An Independent Tree climber is lifted to a tree in Northeast Ohio for removal using a tree crane.

Why Use a Crane or Bucket Truck for a Tree Removal?

Using a crane or bucket truck for tree removal can be safer for everyone involved and can be a more efficient method to remove most large trees.

Tree Removals with a Crane or Bucket Truck Can be Safer

Large Trees

Thanks to the arm’s expanding capability on both the crane and bucket truck, using these vehicles allows us to reach tall trees for removal. Whereas tree removal might be difficult using any of the other methods, a crane or bucket truck makes it possible to remove large trees safely and efficiently.

Dead or Brittle Trees

Some trees become extremely brittle, especially those that have died from a tree pest infestation such as emerald ash borer (EAB). Removing a brittle tree is always dangerous, but the use of a crane or bucket truck allows us to reach and remove trees that would be unsafe for a climber.

Tree Removals with a Crane or Bucket Truck are More Efficient

While the initial setup and planning for using a tree crane for removal can take a while, once the process starts, it doesn’t take much time at all. Using a bucket truck can be even faster as it requires less setup time.

Cranes and Bucket Trucks Can Reach Difficult Locations

Thanks to small backyards, nearby buildings, fences, powerlines, or other obstructions, sometimes it is not possible for our tree removal equipment to access the immediate area.

Luckily, the use of a crane allows us to reach over or around those objects to remove a tree section by section. Sometimes, that means that the crane will be parked in the front yard of a house for a tree to be removed from the backyard.

Similarly, a bucket truck allows us to reach trees in locations that may not otherwise be accessible.

Do all Tree Care Companies Use a Crane?

No, not all tree care companies use a crane. Depending on their size, training, equipment, and experience level, some may just use the felling method to remove a tree.

A crane is a valuable piece of equipment for a professional tree care company in many ways, but it is expensive. Independent Tree is proud to offer crane tree removal services when needed.

An Independent Tree worker uses a bucket truck to reach a tree and cut sections for removal, while an Independent Tree ground crew member uses ropes to help lower the removed section of tree.

Do all Tree Care Companies Use a Bucket Truck?

No, not all tree companies use a bucket truck. Just like a crane, a bucket truck, especially one created for the tree care industry, can be an investment. However, it is much safer and more efficient than using a ladder or other removal methods.

Do all Tree Removals Need a Crane or Bucket Truck?

No, a tree crane or bucket truck is not needed for all removals. When we come to your property for an inspection before giving a quote, we are deciding which equipment and crew would best suit your needs. We will check things such as:

  • The tree’s location, including proximity to buildings or powerlines, if it is on a hill, and more
  • How many trees will be removed
  • The health of the tree
  • The size of the tree
  • The type of tree
  • Whether the tree is leaning
  • And more

If a tree is small or mid-size, in an open area, or in an easily accessible location, the Independent Tree crew may decide to use a bucket truck but not a crane. Or we may choose another method of removal. It depends on what the estimator decides based on their knowledge and experience.

Independent Tree's bucket truck is parked in a Northeast Ohio residential driveway while tree care workers work on a nearby tree.

Cranes, Bucket Trucks, and Winter Tree Work

One of the reasons we are able to provide tree work year-round is because of our tree removal equipment. Use of cranes and bucket trucks allows us, in many cases, to park the vehicles on a hard surface (such as a road or driveway) and use the crane or bucket truck arms to reach the trees.

Doing this prevents some damage to your lawn during the cooler months, when snow may have melted and created a muddy surface.

It also means that your trees are still accessible even when there is snow on the ground.

Learn more about Independent Tree’s Winter Tree Work >>

A chainsaw and work bag in the foreground with Independent Tree's bucket truck and other vehicles in the background on a residential Ohio street.

Contact Independent Tree for your Tree Removal Work

Many of our customers tell us how fascinating it is to watch our crew at work when removing a tree. Our team works together to make something that is difficult and dangerous appear simple and straightforward. While “entertainment” is not one of the reasons why we use cranes and bucket trucks in our work, we do acknowledge that it is something memorable to see in action.

If you have a tree or multiple trees that need to be removed from your Northeast Ohio property, contact Independent Tree today to schedule an estimate.

Schedule Your Professional Tree Removal

Independent Tree has the skills, experience, and professional equipment to make your tree removal safer, more efficient, and less stressful.

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About The Author

Alan Kraus owner of Independent Tree in Newbury, Ohio

Alan Kraus

Alan Kraus is the founder and owner of Independent Tree, a full-service tree care company in Northeastern Ohio serving Eastern Cuyahoga, Geauga, Portage & Lake Counties. Alan is a certified arborist with a lifelong love of trees and with roots in the community he serves.  More About Alan >


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