Lop till you drop

As a technology journalist, I’m often asked the same old question: “I need to prune a tree. Should I do it myself, or call in a tree surgeon?” To which the answer is: tree surgeon! Tree surgeon! In the name of all that is good and pure in this world, don’t do it yourself!

Unfortunately, to get a tree surgeon you need to have something very special. Money.

So here’s my handy guide to doing it yourself.

Before you start, make sure you have the following:

  • A sturdy ladder.
  • A telescopic lopper (ideally one with a saw attachment). Don’t buy an own-brand cheapie, because it will break as soon as you wave it near a twig. Wilkinson Sword is your friend.
  • Savlon, bandages and elastoplasts.
  • More time than you could possibly imagine.
  • A crippling fear of heights.

Got all that? Then let’s go lopping! First of all, let’s see what we’re dealing with.

Hmm, this could take a while. Here’s what you do.

  • Rest the ladder against the base of the tree.
  • Climb up the ladder.
  • Realise you’re only one-tenth of the way up the tree.
  • Climb up inside the tree. Warning: the tree will fight back, and you’ll lose most of your skin.
  • Extend the telescopic lopper to its maximum length and wave it ineffectually at the branches.
  • Get the lopper stuck between several branches.
  • Fall out of the tree.
  • Climb back inside the tree.
  • Place the jaws of the lopper around a suitably annoying branch and pull the cord.
  • Watch as the head of the lopper falls off and narrowly misses your face.
  • Get ready to storm off to Homebase in “this lopper is shit!” fury.
  • Read the instructions and realise you forgot to put a really important bolt – the “stops the head of the lopper falling off” bolt, as it’s known – into the lopper.
  • Call yourself a twat.
  • Put the really important bolt into the lopper.
  • Climb back up inside the tree.
  • Realise that the branches you need to cut are still too far away.
  • Climb further up inside the tree, losing yet more skin.
  • Climb to the very top of the tree.
  • Look down.
  • Realise you’re up very high.
  • Very high.
  • Very, very high.
  • Panic.
  • Panic some more.
  • Weep.
  • Panic.
  • Climb back down and hack things randomly with the saw attachment.

After approximately six weeks, you should end up with three things: a garden that’s disappeared under several tons of branches, arms like the world’s shakiest junkie, and a tree that looks like this:

Tune in next week as I discover the best ways to fall off a shed roof!