Should I hire a tree service pro or do it myself?

Should I hire a tree service pro or do it myself?

“Would I save money by just doing this job myself?” The tough economy and recent effect of sequestration have caused many homeowners ask themselves this question. When it comes to tree care, which aspects of the work could homeowners do themselves, and what should they not attempt? 

Consider the real cost. Thoughtful people weigh matters of time versus money routinely. However, when considering potential work on your trees, there is more to it than simply the “time vs. money” factor. Overarching these concerns is the issue of safety. 

Safety must be considered in respect to the home and property, but also as it pertains to the physical safety of the person doing the work and those nearby. Of particular concern is that the vast majority of the work done by homeowners that result in injury or fatality are often deemed by to be “simple” or “easy” jobs.

Do your homework

Safety for the home and property can be partially addressed in your initial research. Is the company licensed and insured? Does it have a good reputation? How do they deal with problems that come up about the job? Do the workers make you feel comfortable? Is the company pleasant to deal with, or are they unhelpful? 

The legitimacy and the professionalism of the vendor are two factors to consider. These can be addressed with a little research, asking friends for referrals, utilizing consumer services such as Angie’s List, and professional organizations such as TCIA. 

If doing the work yourself, a critical overview of the surrounding area is absolutely mandatory to spot prospective problems before they happen. Also, you may want to consider whether or not your homeowners insurance would help if an accident happened in connection with work done yourself.

Consider your physical safety

Physical safety is another matter. Professionals are specialists at what they do; they are trained for the work and are knowledgeable. Legitimate technicians are skilled in using the equipment required for the job, educated in the proper techniques for the work to be done correctly, and know how to reduce any potential for collateral damage to people and property. 

When looking at the aspects of whether to do the work yourself or to hire it out, consider some of the following points:

Is there any potentially injurious utility nearby?
• Are there matters of heights or terrain that you are not accustomed to?
• Is there equipment involved that could cause serious injury?
• Do you understand the common hazards associated with the work?
Will you be exposed to toxic fumes?
• Is it possible that the work you are doing could cause damage to a nearby structure or to someone walking by?
• Is anyone around who can call for help or administer first aid?

Know your limitations

While some tasks such as mulching and watering are easily handled by the homeowner, the vast majority of tasks involving pruning and removals are better left to the pros. 

Ladders and climbing are not safe for the amateur. Falls and electrocution are common points of serious injury for the homeowner. Chain saws, stump cutters and chippers require special training. Cutting techniques are not random – there are standards, which, if deviated from, can be injurious to the tree.

Careful consideration of these points can help give direction when considering tree care needs for your home. We all enjoy living in functional, attractive spaces and environments. Think first about what the job is worth to you.

About this Angie’s List Expert: Ron Kronz is the president of Dad’s Tree Service, providing tree service in Springfield, Va. Since 1993, Dad’s Tree Service has specialized in tree pruning, thinning and trimming, stump removal, deep root fertilization and dangerous deadwood removal.

As of January 17, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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