Don’t Let a Fool Killer Kill You! Safe Tree and Limb Removal

Widowmaker. Safe tree and limb removal from ArborPro Tree Experts.


The last few weeks have been windy and dangerous in Portland. High wind can damage homes, power lines, and trees. Often, this leads to a lot of tree and limb removal jobs for ArborPro Tree Experts. Wind damage leaves branches, limbs, and tree tops vulnerable to breakage; creating the perfect instance for a “widowmaker” or “fool killer”. Have you heard either of those terms before? Unfortunately, we see and hear them a lot. If you aren’t unfamiliar, a widowmaker or fool killer is any loose overhead debris like limbs or tree tops that may fall unexpectedly. The name comes from the notion that when a limb falls on someone they leave a widow behind. Luckily, proper tree and limb removal can prevent a widowmaker from making a widow or a fool out of anyone.

Safe Tree and Limb Removal

It just so happens that late fall and winter are the best time to handle tree and limb removal. With the leaves out of the way, it is easy to see what tree limbs may need removing. Here’s a quick DIY guide to the limb removal process. We are providing you a guide because you shouldn’t really be doing or attempting this yourself, it’s very dangerous. We are always being asked what is involved with removing tree limbs properly. The simple answer is A LOT!  You can however, learn a little from the guide below and perhaps impress your neighbors with your knowledge.

DIY Guide – How To Remove Tree Limbs

  1. Go in with a plan. Determine what branch(es) you will cut and where. Sometimes it makes sense to cut a branch for aesthetic reasons (because it overhangs something or grows in an odd direction) or because branches are rubbing together or damaged. If you EVER at any point have any doubts about which branches to cut or how to cut them safely, hire a tree service with certified arborists.
  2. Begin to cut the 1st tree limb from the underside about 1/2 way through but stop before the saw binds.
  3. Start a second cut a little further out on the limb on the top side of the branch.
  4. Let the branch fall on its own.
  5. Trim the stub making a clean cut that will heal easily. Word of warning: Don’t cut into the branch collar, which is a bulge where the tree limb meets the trunk. Again, if you run into trouble – call a professional.

Don’t paint the cut! This was common practice in the old days, but studies show it actually causes more harm than help for trees trying to heal.

Tree and Limb Removal Portland

Think you may have a widowmaker or potential widowmaker on your property? Give us a call. We take tree and limb removal seriously – keeping our crew and everyone on the ground entirely safe. As certified arborists we have the proper training to understand and deal with widowmaker situations and anything else the winter weather can throw at us. Whether your widowmaker is on your residential property or a commercial property, ArborPro Tree Experts has the right crew to send your way. We work all throughout the Portland area, including the suburbs, so don’t hesitate to call.

Photo provided from Tree City USA Bulletin ©1990 National Arbor Day Foundation. John E. Rosenow, publisher; James R. Fazio, editor; Gerreld L. Pulsipher, graphic design; Gene W. Grey, William P. Kruidenier, James J. Nighswonger, Steve Sandfort, technical review committee.

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