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