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What is an Orchard Ladder?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 16, 2024
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An orchard ladder is a highly specialized ladder engineered for orchard work including pruning, tree training, and fruit harvesting. This type of ladder is not intended for use as an all purpose ladder, and, like other ladders, it needs to be properly maintained for safety. Garden supply stores and nurseries often carry orchard ladders or can order them by request, and several different styles are available.

Wood, metal, or plastic can be used to make an orchard ladder. While wood is traditional, plastics are sometimes preferred for durability and strength. In all cases, the rungs of the ladder are textured to reduce slippage. Most ladders are designed in a way which allows for new texturing as the ladder becomes worn with use.

Several concerns have to be addressed with the design of an orchard ladder. The first is worries about damage to the trees. The ladder has a narrowing design to address this, minimizing the area taken up by the ladder at the top to reduce the risk of damage. The second issue of concern is that the ground in orchards tends to be uneven. This instability makes a classic four legged ladder with struts which lock into place dangerous. The orchard ladder is designed to be positioned by hand for maximum safety, allowing people to precisely position the ladder to avoid gopher holes and other hazards.

The straight ladder style has just two legs, and is designed to be leaned against a supporting branch. When moving this type of orchard ladder into place, people should be sure to choose a sound branch for supporting the ladder. The tripod style has a third leg to create a tripod; tripods are very stable on uneven ground. Even with a third leg, however, the ladder can still be tippy. People are often encouraged to shake the ladder once they have it in place or to jump onto the second step to make sure that the ladder isn't positioned over a soft spot or hole.

An orchard ladder is usually designed for use by a single person. As with other ladders, the top of the ladder should not be used as a step. People should also be careful with tools. Tools should not be left on the ladder, as they may fall and hurt someone, and they should be carried with the sharp ends facing away when someone is climbing a ladder, in case of a fall.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By julies — On Oct 05, 2011

I needed an orchard ladder when I was trying to pick apples and cherries when I grew up on the farm.

My brother and I would head out to the fruit trees with a multi purpose ladder and climb just as high as we could to pick the apples and cherries.

Sometimes we would try shaking the apple tree but this never worked very well and would bruise some of the apples when they fell to the ground.

It seemed like the best pieces of fruit were always at the top. I remember standing on my tip toes to try and reach some of them as my legs were shaking.

It is surprising that neither one of us ever got hurt or fell off the ladder. Using an orchard ladder sounds like a much safer way to do this.

By indemnifyme — On Oct 04, 2011

@starrynight - I see what you're saying, but you have to remember orchard ladders are intended for working. Imagine how much it would cost to have to pay twice the amount of people just so someone could hold the bottom of the ladder.

These ladders are designed to be used safely by one person. If a lot of accidents happened, I think the ladder would probably be redesigned!

By starrynight — On Oct 03, 2011

I know these ladders are designed for one person to use, but that sounds awfully dangerous to me! I guess I'm used to regular ladders, where you need someone to stand at the bottom and hold the ladder for stability.

I always like to err on the safe side, so if I ever had the occasion to climb an orchard ladder, I would definitely ask for assistance!

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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