Angie's LIST Guide to
Tree care and services

Trees grow slowly so you can't afford to make a mistake by planting them in the wrong location or overlooking something that puts the tree at risk. Tree care is something most homeowners can do on their own, but an expert should be called if a tree is showing signs of disease or if limbs need to be removed.
 

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Planting trees

planting a tree

Trees will thrive as long as they are planted in the right location. A certified arborist can help determine what trees will work best in your yard -- and your geographic region -- and can help come up with a variety of trees to beautify your landscape.

Unfortunately, the most desirable trees grow slowly. In the eastern U.S., homeowners often plant silver maples because they grow relatively quickly. However, they also have shallow root systems that can damage patios, driveways and sidewalks. The wood is also less dense and therefore more prone to break during a storm.

Red oak and sugar maple trees, on the other hand, tend to hold up better -- but take longer to mature.

Pear, mulberry and other fruit-bearing trees should be kept away from driveways, patios and sidewalks because the fruit will be a nuisance and stain the pavement.

Disease resistance is another factor to consider, but difficult to predict with any certainty. Dutch elms died out by the millions in the mid-20th Century and in recent years ash trees have been devastated by infestations of the emerald ash borer.

Pruning and 'topping'

There are many reasons to prune a tree -- the most important being safety. Branches that overhang the house or brush against it must be removed. Branches that block visibility near streets and intersections should also be trimmed away.

Dead branches should be targeted, along with any that cross and rub against each other. The right pruning techniques will help the tree develop strong roots so it can weather the storms. Pruning is a great way to enhance the shape and stimulate fruit production.

The best time to prune is in the late fall or winter. Because the sap is not running, sap loss is minimized and the tree will not be stressed. Insects are also dormant, helping to prevent infection.

tree topping

Tree 'topping' angers homeowners

Although some advocate the technique, most tree experts we talked to say radical pruning ruins the natural shape of a tree.
Read more

Tree branches should always be cut at a node, or the point where the branch connects to another branch. The cut should be just outside of the ridge of bark that develops at this intersection. Angle the cut down, creating as little branch stub as possible.

Crown thinning: This technique is mainly used on hardwoods. It is a carefully and highly selective removal of branches in the crown of the tree. Do not prune away more than a quarter of the living crown at any one time.

V-shaped unions: Branches that split off in a sharp V-shape will have a wedge of bark in between that rolls in. This wedge represents a weak spot in the tree, and one branch should be removed.

Crown raising: Branches that hang low pose a problem to pedestrians and should be trimmed away.

Pruning large branches requires the right tools. Start with a rope saw that can be used to trim high tree limbs from the ground. A pole pruner can be attached to an extension pole to safely trim branches without the ladder. Portable buck saws are ideal because they are lightweight and collapsible for storage. Always clean the tools after use with soapy water to prevent spreading disease between trees.

Hiring a tree service

Don't hire just anyone with a chain saw and a pickup truck. Here are some tips:

A tree service professional cuts down a large treeA tree service professional cuts down a 100-foot fir tree in a Washington homeowner's backyard. Removing the tree took two days and cost $5,000. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Ann B.)

Decide what you need: Figure out what type of work you need done – trimming service only or do you have dead trees that need to be removed? The most important thing to look for is low hanging or dead limbs that can fall under the weight of severe storms. Low-hanging limbs can provide easy access to your attic for squirrels and other pests.

Don't procrastinate: If you have old trees or low-hanging limbs, don't wait until bad weather hits or you're going to wait a while for service. Taking care of the issue immediately can also save you from further costs.

Compare your options: Check Angie's List reviews to find the best tree service companies in your area. Customers give service providers letter grades (A-to-F) so you'll be able to pick an A-rated service. Discount coupons are often available to Angie's List members.

Check qualifications: Make sure the company is equipped to do the job you need done. For instance, if you need a large tree removed, are they experienced in stump grinding and other necessary aspects of the job?

Consider a certified arborist: If you have trees that are aged or diseased, an arborist can help determine what special care you might need to keep the trees and your yard in good shape.

Ask for proof of insurance: Make sure the company's policy adequately covers property damage and injuries that could occur on your property.

Disposal: Find out how the debris will be handled. Will the company remove it or are you responsible for removing it? Do you want the firewood and/or mulch?

Walk through the job: Have the contractor tag or walk through the yard with you so you know exactly what trees need work and what is being removed. Map out how the areas where the contractors will be working and how they will access those areas. Make sure you've cleared those areas of cars and other items to ensure nothing is damaged by falling limbs.

Put it in writing: Agree to the terms and details of the project, outlined in a contract, before any work is done.

Tree and stump removal

Trees need to be removed for reasons such as unhealthy and diseased trees and trees are in the way of landscape or structures. Sometimes trees are just old and pose a safety hazard.

Property owners and gardeners can know that a tree needs to be removed when trees have dead wood of either multiple branches or the trunk. Dead branches can fall and be a danger to people or at least destructive to property. When a large branch breaks off the main tree and gets lodged within the other branches or if a significant crack is found, the tree should be removed.

The best methods for removing trees are those used by trained arborists. Tall trees that are near other trees and structures should be removed in pieces starting at the top. Trees in an open area can be cut mostly on the side toward which the cutter wishes the tree to fall.

Homeowners can save money by cutting a tree down themselves, but this is a dangerous job. Make sure you are accurately assessing the height of the tree and where it could land. If the trunk of the tree is partially rotted, it will be difficult to predict whether it will split away from your cut line. And once the tree is down, you will still have a lot of work to do.

A tree service professional grinds out a stump after a tree has been cut down

The owner of this Illinois property elected to have a stump removed to make room for a larger garden. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Julie G.)

What about the stump?

Often when a tree is cut down the stump can be left to rot away on its own, but if it's in the way or keeps sending up new shoots you may elect to have it removed.

Farmers used to use tractors to pull stumps out by the root, but now there are special machines that grind out the stump to below ground level.

Stump grinding is done with a stand-alone machine or an attachment grinder for a backhoe. The mechanism sits on top of a stump and chews-up the stump, spitting wood chips chipped from the stump and roots.

A homeowner can rent a stump grinder at a tool rental store, but these are dangerous machines that are generally best left to those who are well-trained. Accidents can happen with any tool and this is one that can take off your foot in a second. No matter who is running the machine, bystanders should keep a distance because wood chunks can be thrown at high speed.

Tree watering tips

Tree roots require a thorough, deep soak so a sprinkler isn't always the best method for watering. It might be more efficient to use a hose or 5-gallon bucket to drench the drip line of a tree. The drip line is the entire area on the ground directly below a tree's canopy. It's where a majority of the tree's feeder roots reside.

Most arborists agree that mature trees require the equivalent of 1 to 1.5 inches of rain per week during the growing season. However, it's not always practical to rely on nature to deliver enough water, especially in drought conditions.

Some arborists say you should add 10 gallons of water for every inch of tree diameter. Another option is to apply 1/2 gallon of water for every square foot of soil under the drip line. Ideally, a tree with a 20-foot drip line should get about 150 gallons of water per week. To put it in perspective, a standard bathtub holds around 50 gallons of water, so it would be like filling up a bathtub three times.

A lack of water will cause a tree to prematurely shed its leaves. (Photo by Mike LaFollette)

Watering early in the morning or after the sun is set will reduce evaporation and help the water to soak deep into the soil. If you do use a sprinkler, make sure you're not wasting water by spraying outside of the tree’s drip line, or hosing down your sidewalk or driveway. To measure how much water you're using, place an empty tuna can or similar container inside the spray area. When it’s full, you’ve watered enough.

Mulch also helps to preserve moisture around the tree's root system. Ideally, you should add 3 to 4 inches of mulch. However, if you pile it too high or create a "mulch volcano" around the tree, you could do more harm than good. Excessive moisture around tree roots can block oxygen and lead to root rot.

Comments

how do you root prune

Homeowners should not cut down trees themselves! Call a professional!

Call a professional!

It is irresponsible for Angie's List to suggest that home owners can cut a tree down themselves. Every month in the Tree Care Industry Association Magazine (www.TCIA.org) features accidents and deaths (severed arms, 6 year old boy killed, and such) of both homeowners and professionals. The June 2012 issue alone featured 19 of these tragic accidents. Additionally the tree "professionals" depicted in your article are not wearing appropriate safety gear – a man in a 100-foot fir tree and a man operating a stump grinder – helmet and eye protection.

the professionals in the above images may want to purchase hardhats and eye protection

How much does it cost to cut down a huge tree?

You would need to get an expert give you an estimate

I was just wondering what the normal cost would be to remove a large tree on the side of my house. It is totally dead. I can remove wood if it is to much to remove. I had one estimate at $400.00 and leave wood,but Iam on a tight budget right now.
Does anybody take payments.

In order to further help you with an estimate most Tree Service companies would prefer to come out and look at the tree first. See you have several things that come into play when felling a huge tree. First is the tree in any state of dying. Does it have a lot of dead wood. How tall is it? What kind, is anything around/near the tree? House, power lines/service drop, fence, drives,roads,etc... So if any of that kind of situations are in play the best option is to get some one out to take a look at it.

TREES LARGE TREES
MY DEAR FREIND THEY COST AS MUCH AS THEY COST WOULD HAVE TO HAVE ADDRESS and a 49.00 dollar consulatation bidding fee which would be refunded if job was bought!

Having been in the tree removal business for thirty plus years, I have to agree that tree trimming/ removal by inexperienced homeowners can lead to tragedy. Only with proper training and experience should anyone attempt to trim or remove large trees.

A small 25 ft or less tree is generally 8.00 a foot.medium tree 25to50ft 10.00 a ft.a large tree 50 ft or larger 12.00 a ft plus 50.00 a load haul off.green team tree service 8178993807 is bonded and insured and we give free estimates

My neighbor has a large tree with rotten limbs. I am trying to help him find someone that can go up high to cut them. We are in Chicago near 87th & Halsted.

looking for someone to cut tree limbs that are growing to close to my house

do two storm damage in mt morris mi I have two large trees that need to be trim I want big branches saved for fire wood but shred all leaves and sm branches and a couple of stumps gone.

Is there a company etc that want to have two free 50 feet trees? They are welcome to have mine. All they need to do is remove them from my premises. I am a senior school teacher, on a limited budget.
Thank you!

I have two redwood trees that the roots appear to be tearing up the concrete in the front and back of my home. I am concerned that the roots may injure the foundation of my home. Each tree is about 15 to 20 feet from the house. They are over 50 feet and 34 years old. Do I need to get arborists or a contractors that deals with structural foundations to give me an estimate of time before these trees should be taken down. I also would like recommendations for arborists and contractors that could help resolve my issures.

Need experienced tree remover

a concern about the property owners need for an informed decision process !
It brings attention some of the aspects to the due diligence that a home owner must address!

Having observed many service providers and their problems with their business!

One problem of the owners is to keep the receivables flowing , commercial customers often pay on a
30 ,60,90 billing process which creates a hard financial environment for the contractor to fund payroll , equipment payments, insurance costs .etc.

Sometimes the funds do not materialize in a timely manner and leaves the owner short and the only option may be to not meet payroll ect. , hoping for a quick turnaround to keep up.

1. An unfulfilled promise of payment to a subcontractor/ employee leaves a gap in the legality for these people to put a lien against a property they have provided work or materials on.
( Have each crew member sign a lien release prior to work being performed)

^ ^ ^
Service providers may also be plagued by turnover of employees , sometimes for payment discrepancies and or by Attendance issues sometimes caused by drug use , alcohol , or a disgruntled attitude towards the work environment and even with other crew members within an unsupervised and unmonitored atmosphere .

2. Onsite : alcohol use , drug use , slacking , goofing . or arguments of crewmembers may occur when a supervisor is not on site and monitoring Safety , performance , attendance , etc.

^ ^ ^

Property owners may still incur a liability from any injury sustained on their property , prevent such actions
as being sued for your homes equity or personal funds and even a suit taken onto your homeowners policy !
( have each crew member sign an injury release prior to work being performed )

An arborist is a specialist in the care of individual trees. Arborists are knowledgeable about the needs of trees and are trained and equipped to provide proper care. Hiring an Arborist is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Proper tree care is an investment that can lead to substantial returns. Well-cared-for trees are attractive and can add considerable value to your property. Poorly maintained trees can be a significant liability. Pruning or removing trees, especially large trees, can be dangerous work. Tree work should be done only by those trained and equipped to work safely in trees,
Services that Arborists Can Provide.
An Arborist can determine the type of pruning necessary to maintain or improve the health, appearance, and safety of trees. These techniques include
Eliminating branches that rub each other
Removing limbs that interfere with wires, building facades, gutters, roofs, chimneys, or windows, or that obstruct streets or sidewalks
Removing dead or weak limbs that pose a hazard or may lead to decay
Removing diseased or insect-infested limbs
Creating better structure to lessen wind resistance and reduce the potential for storm damage
Training young trees
Removing limbs damaged by adverse weather conditions
Removing branches, or thinning, to increase light penetration
Improving the shape or silhouette of the tree

Removal , Although Tree Removal is a last resort, there are circumstances when it is necessary. An Arborist can help decide whether a tree should be removed. Arborists have the skills and equipment to safely and efficiently remove trees. Removal is recommended when the tree
Is dead or dying
Is considered irreparably hazardous
Is causing an obstruction that is impossible to correct through pruning
Is crowding and causing harm to other trees
Is to be replaced by a more suitable specimen
Is located in an area where new construction requires removal
What Is an Arborist? An Arborist by definition, is an individual who is trained in the art and science of planting, caring for, and maintaining individual trees. It simply is , the science of Arboriculture.

REMEMBER TO GET YOUR FREE ESTIMATE SCHEDULED TODAY!

How much should it cost me to have large backyard tree pruned?

question: what should be done

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