Things to Consider

Tree topping can cause damage. Although tree topping, or cutting off the top of the tree, is a common practice, tree experts do not recommend it. Topping can lead to decay and structural problems that will shorten a tree’s life. Instead, tree experts recommend crown reduction. Crown reduction involves removing specific branches at or near the treetop. Crown reduction is far less damaging. Experts recommend never removing more than a quarter of a tree’s branches at one time.

Climbing spikes damage. Climbing spikes, devices strapped on to a tree climber’s feet, allow the climber to support his or her weight while climbing. The climber digs the spikes into the tree bark/trunk. Because spikes damage the tree bark, climbing spikes should never be used on any tree you are trying to save. Climbing spikes may be used on a tree being removed.

Difficulty drives removal cost. Experts often remove even difficult trees with little damage to other trees, plants, landscaping, and lawns. Doing so can be a difficult and expensive task. Companies offering to simply cut down a tree and allow it to fall freely are not providing protection for other yard components. When comparing quotes, make sure to compare apples to apples.

Adding fill soil can kill a tree. According to the experts, tree roots need oxygen to survive. Adding six inches of soil on top of a tree’s root system can suffocate it.

Withhold payment until work is finished. Some homeowners who pay for tree services before the work and cleanup are complete find that cleanup promises are quickly forgotten. Withholding payment until cleanup is complete gives the tree service a financial incentive to finish the job.

Liability is significant. According to industry sources, if you feel that a neighbor’s tree is in danger of damaging your house or property, you should consider requesting, via certified letter, that the tree be removed. Such a letter may help your case if the tree later falls and damages your property.

Permits may be required. Many city and county governments regulate tree removal and require inspections and/or permits. Although getting the proper permits and approvals is the homeowner’s responsibility, many high-quality tree services will remind you to get them and, in some cases, assist in procuring them.