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The Dangers of Tree Pruning with Climbing Spikes: Understanding the Risks

tree spike damage
Picture taken during a consutation after a non certified "tree guy" spiked this tree to prune it.

Climbing spikes
A past climber had used spike 7 years prier to me taking this photo.

Tree pruning is a crucial aspect of arboriculture, ensuring the health, safety, and aesthetics of trees. However, when it comes to pruning, using climbing spikes can pose significant dangers, both to the trees and the arborists themselves. Let's delve into the risks associated with pruning trees while wearing climbing spikes.

1. Damage to Tree Tissues:

Climbing spikes, also known as spurs or gaffs, are metal spikes attached to the climber's legs and feet. When used while pruning, these spikes will cause severe damage to the tree's bark and cambium layer. Puncturing the tree's tissues creates wounds that compromise its structural integrity and expose it to pests, diseases, and decay.

2. Stress and Long-Term Harm:

Repeated use of climbing spikes can create wounds that the tree struggles to heal, leading to chronic stress. This stress weakens the tree's defense mechanisms, making it susceptible to infections and structural failure. Over time, the damage caused by climbing spikes may result in irreversible harm, affecting the tree's health and longevity.

3. Increased Risk of Disease and Insect Infestation:

The wounds inflicted by climbing spikes serve as entry points for pathogens and insects. These open wounds attract pests and disease-causing organisms, making the tree more vulnerable to infections. This compromised health can lead to a decline in the tree's overall vitality and increase the need for extensive care.

4. Impact on Aesthetic Value:

Trees pruned using climbing spikes often exhibit visible scars and damage, affecting their visual appeal. Such wounds not only compromise the tree's health but also diminish their aesthetic value, particularly in urban and landscaped environments.

5. Safety Concerns for Arborists:

Wearing climbing spikes poses risks to arborists as well. While they aid in climbing, these spikes can lead to slips and falls, resulting in serious injuries. Furthermore, the added pressure on the climber's legs can cause discomfort, muscle strain, and long-term health issues.

Alternative Tree Pruning Methods:

To protect both trees and arborists, alternative pruning methods should be employed. Rope access techniques, aerial lifts, and pole pruners are safer and more tree-friendly approaches to reach elevated branches without causing harm to the tree's structure.


Pruning trees while wearing climbing spikes might seem efficient but can cause irreversible damage to trees and pose risks to the arborists themselves. As responsible stewards of trees, it's crucial to prioritize tree health and safety by adopting tree-friendly pruning methods that do not compromise the long-term vitality of our invaluable green assets.

At Never Stumped Trees, we take pride in providing a premium service delivered by certified arborists committed to the well-being of trees and the safety of our team. We want to assure our clients that no climber with Never Stumped Trees will ever prune trees using climbing spikes. Instead, we employ industry-approved techniques and cutting-edge practices that prioritize the health of your trees while ensuring the safety of our team.

Let's work together to preserve the health and beauty of trees while ensuring the safety of arborists. Adopting safe and tree-friendly practices is essential for a sustainable and thriving arboriculture industry.

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