Cutting Back And Removing An Overgrown Vine From A Tree

(Punny alternate post title: Heard It Through The Giant Non-Grape Vine)

Ok, so remember the ol’ crazyvine that was putting the squeeze on an oak tree in our backyard that we mentioned last fall? It’s a scene straight outta Jumanji.

About half a year ago we cut the base of the vine

… in an attempt to kill it and rescue our oak tree from its death grip.

And then it just sat there, a la Rose in Titanic. It never let go. And things took a turn for the ugly when the leaves and branches got all dry and dead.

So after 6 months of waiting for it to give up the ghost and magically fall from the tree, we decided that we’d need to take matters into our own hands… with the help of some pruning shears. Basically our method was to clip each dead branch off right at the base where it met the vine since we couldn’t wrestle the vine itself from the tree (it was literally as firm as cement on there, and we didn’t want to damage the oak).

Miraculously we could reach almost every last branch thanks to a ladder and a long handled branch cutter for those upper portions.

Here’s a before shot for ya from last year:

And an after that I just snapped this morning:

It’s nice to no longer have what appears to be a tree that’s eating the house.

One more before:

And an after from that angle now:

I love that there’s not a giant vine weighting down the oak anymore, and the new openness of the upper patio is awesome. It used to feel pretty closed in – and so many berries and pointy leaves (both of which the vine produced en mass) used to fall all over the table and chairs. It’s nice to be free of that dusting o’ junk.

So that’s how you ignore a vine for a few years, then attack the base, then wait for it to surrender and fall to the ground by some vine-miracle, and then make things happen with some shears and a ladder. Any pruning or yard stuff going on in your neck of the woods?


  1. Marie says

    Your oak tree thanks you! There is a lot of yard clean-up and pruning and raking going on here. It is finally Spring in Michigan. ( for a few days anyway until the temps plummet this weekend!)

    • Jen. says

      Yeah! I’m dying to get out and do some cleanup, but we’ve got more flooding predicted. Love you, Michigan, but enough for a bit, ok?

    • Sarah says

      I live in Michigan too, and we spent all day Sunday wrestling a vine from our front porch! It was cracking the concrete and everything! Took me and my husband 4 hours to pull out! And now they’re calling for snow again next week. Stinkin Michigan! :)

    • Nicole says

      Just had to pipe in here so everyone can feel sorry for me…I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and they are calling for double digits in inches of snow we are supposed to get tomorrow….who can get me a rental in Florida?! ;)

    • alisha says

      I’m in MI, too, and there is flooding going on EVERYWHERE! Friends have posted countless pictures of flooded roadways, floating cars, lakes forming in their backyards (and basements) and the mayor of Grand Rapids even asked people to conserve water by “showering with a buddy” haha!!

      I’m sooo glad we laid french drain tiles in our notoriously soggy backyard 2 autumns ago–we are draining quite nicely =]

      In regards to the post–it seems like that would be much healthier for the tree, but I personally would sooo miss the privacy the vine provided! We trimmed an overgrown shrub near our deck last year and I STILL mourn the loss of privacy from our neighbor’s house. But I bet the oak is happier!

    • says

      Oh yes, that house you see in the very very far distance is actually on the other side of a street that’s further over than ours (not even our street, maybe 300+ feet away) – so I’m pretty sure if he came out naked and did a dance in his front yard I couldn’t see him – not that I’d encourage that… hah!


  2. Katie says

    Looks great! I’m also trying to tackle pruning some trees in my backyard that are creeping over from the neighbor. Unfortunately the branches are too high up for me to reach with my ladder. Was wondering about the tool you used and how hard it was. I’ve heard some of the pruners on poles can be difficult. Someone even suggested a chainsaw on a pole (I guess they sell it, not just a Jerry-rigged version).

    • says

      We love our branch clipper. It basically has a long arm and you pull a string and it clips the branch. It’s John’s dad’s (probably 10+ years old) since he gave it to us after moving to a place without a yard that they have to maintain. So sorry I don’t have brand info (doesn’t have a logo anywhere).


    • Debbie says

      My Mom loves what she calls her chain saw on a pole for high up branch trimming (she’s only 5’1″). It’s made by Black and Decker (not super expensive). You charge the battery and then attach it to the tool to power it. So not as scary as a real chain saw but very similar to John’s tool with alittle more power. We use it alot for medium sized limb trimming.

    • Ambi says

      Sooo I actually work for Black & Decker and yes we make pole pruners that are not top heavy (aka your arms won’t fall off) and that actually work. If your branches are more than 6-8″ you’ll have to get a full-on chainsaw but anything less than that you can use a pole pruner for. Remington sells a chainsaw (corded) on a pole but it can be top heavy which is not ideal and Worx makes the jawsaw (corded) but again its top heavy and can run you about $150. Go to your local Lowes or Home Depot and ask about these. I believe Ryobi & B&D are the only ones that make cordless pole pruners aside from some random brands.

  3. ErinY says

    Short and to the point, Petersiks! haha Big transformation, few words, but still thorough, nice work on your goals! lol

    • says

      That was a hand me down from John’s dad since they moved to a place with a maintenance free yard (I don’t think it says anything on it, but it might be 10+ years old).


    • SunshineGal85 says

      Look for a pole pruner that has both a pruning saw and string-pull lopper blades on it so you can cut both large and small branches with the same tool. The 2-in-1 tool costs more than purchasing one that only performs one function, but costs considerably less than purchase two separate, single-function pole pruners. My only problem with a pole saw is it’s difficult to put force on the blade while you hold the base of a log pole, so it takes much longer to cut through a branch. Bonus tip: if you have fruit trees, you can purchase a basket or mesh bag attachment so when you clip the fruit it falls into the basket or bag rather than falling all the way to the ground with heavy bruising.

  4. alisa says

    We just got our trees trimmed (we have about 30 trees the size of the one you tackled!) after the advice of a realtor and I cannot believe the difference pruned trees make! We had a vine on one of ours too that we had removed and the tree looks so much happier and prouder without the vine-induced suffocation. We had good timing too- a huge storm just blew through last night and now the cleanup is minimal compared to what we used to deal with after a storm. Did the branches cause any damage to your railing when they were that close?

    • says

      They definitely encouraged lots of gunk to build up on the railing (and bird do and all that other gross stuff that happens in thick trees) so we did some hose spraying and actually want to rent a power washer to finish the job.


  5. says

    I thought it looked pretty before and gave you some extra privacy! That said, I can totally understand why you would want to cut it. Berries & leaves everywhere can be quite a nuisance to a deck. Haha. Love the jumanji reference!

  6. says

    Holy Crap that made a huge difference! I honestly didn’t even realize that that was what the back of the house looked like. You guys really do have an awesome piece of land. And I’m jealous of your grass. We’re trying to figure out how to do the whole…yard thing with three dogs. Joys of home ownership. Amirite? ;)

  7. Meaghan says

    Hey guys! Just wanted to let you know that I think your “like a post” section has a link to external sites… Spammy type sites.

    • says

      Thanks for the tip Meaghan! That’s actually the way that plug-in has always worked (in order to serve 4 of our posts it shares 1 external one) but it should be home related. The one it’s showing me right now is about bedroom organization. Is that the one you see too? I wonder if they’re targeted like google (meaning other people might see different ones).


    • Dayna says

      Mine says “the food that fights three”…looks health related and I don’t think its google related. Doesn’t bother me, but just thought you might want to know!

    • says

      Weird! So I guess they serve different ads to different people (could be location based or something). Who knew?! I always thought you guys saw what we saw!


    • Alissa says

      I’ve got “Inappropriate Kid Drawings” with a thumbnail of smiling child with “I love Satan” written next to a drawing of Santa. :) How do they come up with these?

    • Lindsay says

      Mine is about “Minimizing the Stress of Euthanasia”… I don’t think it is a targeted thing!

    • says

      Haha- this thread cracked me up, and made me look too. Mine is about ‘top 10 horrible toddler behaviors’! I am scared to click that link and see how many my twins have :)

    • Nicole says

      Mines about how to eat a banana while standing on one foot with your eyes closed.

      jk. i didnt even click on it. ;)

    • Heather Flint says

      Usually mine are house related. However, today mine is “Five Ways the Chinese Treat Colitis”. Hahahaha, I can’t quit laughing. I actually asked my fiance if hes been having “problems”, to see if it was something he had googled. LOL!!!

    • alisha says

      Mine is “The ultimate herb for your heart’s health: PART 3” don’t know what happened to the first two parts….and it’s Hawthorn, in case you we’re curious ;)

    • erin says

      Agreed. I am new on the street and this is my first spring/summer here. I will be finding a way to address the poison ivy that runs rampant through bushes in the neighbors yard that joins with mine that I saw when viewing the house. Or… just treat it anyway, no one likes poison ivy.

  8. says

    What type of vine was that? We had one similar on a pine tree and could never figure out what it was. Removing it sure made a difference. Good job!

  9. says

    There will be lots of that going on at our house. My husband just bought a new chainsaw haha. I think that now makes two chainsaws and a couple backup/part saws. #thatshowmainersroll

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