Tree removal is a hazardous undertaking, requiring specialized equipment and highly trained individuals. A professional arborist can perform a thorough inspection of the damaged/problem tree to determine if removal is required. Before hiring a contractor, consult the tips below to ensure you’re making the best decision for both you and your tree.

  1. In many cases, removal should be a last resort. Not only do well-cared-for trees add value to and beautify your property, but they also support local ecology. Not all people who work on trees are specialists or certified arborists, so a contractor with a truck and a chainsaw may recommend removal for every problem when other tree-saving solutions are available. Tree specialists can often diagnose and treat many problems that would otherwise require cutting down the tree.

  2. Compare apples to apples when hiring a contractor. There’s more than one way to take down a tree, and costs can range accordingly. Professional arborists are trained extensively to remove trees efficiently and without damage to your landscaping, home, or neighboring trees. Depending on the location and type of tree, removal can often be a complicated—and consequently costly—undertaking. If a company simply cuts the tree at the base, letting it fall freely, the cost will be lower, but the potential damage to your property will be higher. After heavy storms, there can be a high demand for qualified tree professionals to perform tree removals or to take down damaged limbs. Be wary of people going door to door offering tree work, as certified arborists and other degreed foresters do not practice this. Hiring a tree professional who closely follows industry safety standards will help protect you and your assets.

  3. Green trees, red tape. While a tree is part of one’s property, the decision to remove a tree does not always belong entirely to the homeowner. Cities and counties can regulate tree removal, often requiring inspections and permits before a tree can be removed. Homeowners’ associations may also insist on approving all removals. Reputable tree service companies will assist homeowners with acquiring the necessary permits and coordinating a schedule for the removal.

  4. Removing the stump and lumber. Professional tree companies should remove the stump, keeping your yard free of a long-standing eyesore. When getting an estimate, double check to make sure that stump removal is included in the cost. Most companies will also give homeowners several options regarding the lumber. The tree can be cut down to useable firewood that is left for the homeowner, or the wood can be fed through a chipper on-site. Ask your professional about the different options and associated costs.

  5. Trees on a neighbor’s property. When a limb or tree falls, it can unfortunately do damage to more than just the owner’s property. If you are concerned that a neighbor’s tree poses a hazard, experts recommend requesting via certified letter that the tree be removed. If the tree ultimately inflicts damage to your property, the letter may help during the insurance claims process.

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Sources: Seattle Department of Transportation, City Arborist's Office; United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service; Virginia Department of Forestry.

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