Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

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BAM!
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Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by BAM! » Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:15 am

I have some trees in the back yard which are growing super tall and are out of control. I need to have them cut back.

Should I:

A. go with the Yelp guy who got 5 stars, seems to know what he's doing, is bonded and insured, but more expensive.

or

B. go with the in-laws family contractor who has a landscaper who can trim trees at a discounted rate, but may not do as good of a job.

The trees are near our neighbor's house. I'm worried that if a branch falls on their house, I don't want to have any extra unforeseen costs. :)

spitty
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by spitty » Tue Dec 27, 2016 5:21 am

Last sentence says it all--gotta go with the insured pro. You can save some $$ if you have the means to clean up. If so, get a quote to just fell all the limbs then you haul it away. You'd need a pickup, chainsaw etc, and somewhere to dump. Not wanting to do any of it, get some more bids--these guys charge a ton, but you probably know that!

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NCPE
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by NCPE » Tue Dec 27, 2016 7:17 am

This is a job to leave to the professionals.

Bid the job out among tree companies that are bonded and insured for both liability and workers comp. Call their agent to verify insurance is in force before they start working on your property.

Neighbor tried the cheap route, hired 2 guys with a pickup and a chainsaw, long story short they cut a large (30" at the base) poplar tree that turned and fell directly across the top of the house. The house was destroyed, just lucky no one was killed or injured. The fly by night crew had no insurance and no assets other than the pickup truck. The neighbor's home owners insurance company had to pay to rebuild the house from the foundation up.

mouses
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by mouses » Tue Dec 27, 2016 7:26 am

In my state there is a state website that lists the insurance companies specific contractors have. You can call the insurance companies to ensure they are still current with their insurance.

You seem to have only found one professional company. I think you will probably find several if you web search, and check their reviews and insurance. Look for ones with one or more arborists on the payroll.

What do you mean the trees are out of control? Mature large trees are generally worth thousands of dollars. They provide shade, etc. and can save you a bundle in air conditioning costs. I know whereof I speak, since a neighbor cut down two mature trees on our lot line, and now my living/dining rooms are ovens in the summer.
Last edited by mouses on Tue Dec 27, 2016 7:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

wilked
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by wilked » Tue Dec 27, 2016 7:28 am

you set the problem up so that there's only one answer.

Go with pros

Frisco Kid
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by Frisco Kid » Tue Dec 27, 2016 7:42 am

As others have said, go with the pro. This is a job for a certified arborist where experience means everything. This work will be expensive however you get what you pay for. Your trees will thank you as well................

tim1999
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by tim1999 » Tue Dec 27, 2016 8:12 am

Go with the pro. "Cousin Lou's tree service" is likely to have little to no insurance, probably has older, less efficient/more intrusive equipment, and less competent tree climbers if they even have one.

livesoft
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by livesoft » Tue Dec 27, 2016 8:14 am

What kind of trees? Species? Height? Diameter of largest branch to cut?

I'd get more quotes.

I've had a dead tree removed and about 10 others trimmed by the guy w/crew going around the neighborhood. He had a business card saying his company was bonded and insured. Great service at a great price ($600) and perfect clean-up. My trees didn't need any arborist.
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user5027
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by user5027 » Tue Dec 27, 2016 8:24 am

I use to work with a guy who did side jobs like this with his friend. They had business cards that said "Buck & Bill - We'll try almost anything twice."

jebmke
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by jebmke » Tue Dec 27, 2016 8:44 am

Nice shade trees take decades to develop. A hack with a chainsaw can undo that in 30 minutes.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

SleepKing
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by SleepKing » Tue Dec 27, 2016 9:02 am

Agree with above. Go with the insured professional.

It might be worth getting a few quotes. If you are in a northern climate, many companies offer winter rates too.

Best,
Sleepy

tomd37
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by tomd37 » Tue Dec 27, 2016 9:51 am

I would suggest that you get quotes from several companies and ensure that they employ and use certified arborists. A mature tree can be worth thousands of dollars in property value. Ask for a copy of their insurances and call the insurance company yourself to ensure the insurance is in effect. A properly done job will be well worth the cost.
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likegarden
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by likegarden » Tue Dec 27, 2016 10:26 am

I always go with a pro who has a well-trained group of workers. They never made a mistake, removed all debris and are fast. I have to pay a little more but it is quality work.
Except a few months ago I did some cutting myself, because I thought it was easy work, and one knee and leg still hurts from it.

btenny
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by btenny » Tue Dec 27, 2016 12:59 pm

Go find a certified arborist who trims trees for the local govt people. Call the Forest service office near you for names. Get him to come out and look at your trees. Ask him if the trees should be cut down or one tree cut down or if all of them should just be trimmed. Like others have said mature big trees are great landscaping and shade in the summer.

If there is more than one "certified arborist" in town get 2-3 to come out and give you a quote. I went through this process back when and have used the same company 3-4 times.

I have big trees in front and back. I get them trimmed every few years to keep them in control. It costs $500-$1000 each time. They bring a group of 3 guys and a big truck and a mulcher. Trimming takes 1-2 hours. I also paid them to remove one big tree that was right next to the house. It was 80+ feet tall with a 4 foot diameter trunk. It took all day and required a 20 ton truck crane and 3 other trucks to haul off the wood and 5 guys to do the work. It was a big deal and required a lot of skill. They blocked off the street for the crane and loading trucks. They had 2 professional tree climbers who hung from the crane 80 feet in the air. They had to work right next to the house while the crane lifted big 10 ton branches and big trunk pieces. No way would Joe's Yard service do this right. That job cost $3000 including a second day of stump grinding and landscaping where the tree used to be. It was worth every penny.

Good Luck.

Mudpuppy
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by Mudpuppy » Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:08 pm

I have a rather amusing video of my neighbor's landscaper trying to cut down one of their backyard trees and taking out large swathes of the fence in the process. I find it amusing more than aggravating simply because a fence company had already been hired to replace the fence later in the week. There was quite a bit of tree debris the neighbor had to clear from my yard.

Meanwhile, I had professionals take down a much taller, sickly tree that was not suited for this climate and the drought did it no favors. It was far closer to the fence, but no damage was done to the fence. Nor did they drop more than leaves over the fence into the neighbor's backyard, but they made sure to clean those up before they left too.

So I would echo the recommendations to go with the professionals. Also, if the professional is not a certified arborist, you should search for a company that does have one on staff. The arborist will know the best way to trim the trees for your climate. Otherwise, you risk getting the dreaded "poodle cut" or "lion tail trim" for trees, which is quite popular with professional tree trimmers, but not very healthy for trees in the long-term.

Lion-tailing is when they over-thin the tree, taking out most interior and lower branches, and leave little puffs of foliage at the ends. It can actually make branches more prone to falling because it puts most of the growth and weight on the ends of the branches, which is the exact opposite of what you're trying to accomplish. It also stresses the tree greatly by removing too much growth at once.

You should ideally trim no more than 20% of the tree during each pruning, and use multiple years of pruning to whip an out-of-control tree back into proper shape rather than prune it mercilessly all at once. The branches should be pruned to leave the tree still looking like a normal tree, just with fewer branches.

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dratkinson
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by dratkinson » Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:44 pm

I first went with the guys making the neighborhood round trimming trees. What an ugly mess! Trees eventually died and had to be cut down and stumps removed. But on a positive note, it did get rid of my box elder bug problem.

Bottom line. Go with the guys who know what they are doing and have the credentials and equipment (more than a pickup truck and chain saw) to prove it. You will pay once... but it's worth it if you avoid paying twice.
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dbr
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by dbr » Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:56 pm

Just one more story. The neighbor asked around for tree removal recs. They went with a couple of guys with a pickup truck. That truck was last seen hightailing it away from the property as the power company pulled up to deal with the tree they dropped across the power lines. It was very clever to get the power guys to do the heavy lifting getting all that wood to ground safely.

Tamarind
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by Tamarind » Tue Dec 27, 2016 3:36 pm

Get an arborist, end of story. Best case, they will talk you out of trimming or prune gently so as to preserve the health of the trees. Worst case, they will take your tree down safely and cleanly. They will get up in the tree and line branches down slowly, putting them right where they want them instead of dropping them.

Do not mess with thousands of pounds of wood accelerating over tens of feet of height.

Fun story that ends well: my dad had a 100+ ft tulip poplar that was struck by lightning and died. After a smaller branch came down in a storm he realized the tree needed to come down. Called the local guys with chainsaws. They promised to take it down in pieces, but instead just hooked a line to a truck and cut through the bottom of the trunk. Luckily it went away from the house and the guys were all good runners. They are still finding splinters 200 feet from where it came down.

Less fun is that I know a family that lost their dad this year to a falling tree. He was a DIYer but it's not worth the personal risk or the liability of having someone unlicensed or not insured do such dangerous work on your property.

mouses
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by mouses » Tue Dec 27, 2016 5:16 pm

btenny wrote:Go find a certified arborist who trims trees for the local govt people.


I would not recommend this. I called the town when a low hanging branch on a sidewalk tree needed to be removed (the town owned sidewalk trees) because it was blocking passage on the sidewalk, and their people turned both sidewalk trees, mature decades old trees, into lollipop trees. I could have cried.

People who work for the government are interested in making work, even if it doesn't need to be done. That's how they justify their jobs.

Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Dec 27, 2016 5:47 pm

Obtain multiple quotes - do not use Yelp as your source of tree cutting specialists. Use google or yahoo to look up "tree trimming specialists" or "landscape gardeners" or "arborists". While some arborists can be pricey, not all of them are. Further, you can ask your local town arborist or shade tree department for recommendations of local tree trimmers. Anyone can pretty much use a chainsaw, but if you make the wrong cut you can wind up weakening the tree and that can put you and others around you in real danger down the road.

I'll give you my experiences with arborists - one fellow was licensed, insured, bonded but would go no further than the 30 foot boom on his truck to trim a gigantic 75 foot + oak I had in the front of my home. Yes, his prices were good, but what good is that if all he's doing is trimming the bottom of the tree when the real problem are the branches and leaders above the roof line of my home?

A second arborist charged 3x as much as the first guy but the quality of the trimming was hands down better. I had crown thinning done on my tree. So much better, that when Sandy came roaring through town, the only thing on the front lawn of my home were two leaves, all the leaders, branches, twigs and leaves were intact. My neighbors could not believe how good the tree took it, meanwhile half the trees in my immediate neighborhood had either fallen or split at the trunk. Was it worth it? You betcha, every penny of it and more. A few years later, I had the tree taken down as it was getting old and there were signs of it dying, the same arborist was called and they wanted a ridiculous price to cut it down plus they wanted 2 days to do it. I found another reputable insured and bonded arborist who did it for half the price and in one day.

http://forestry.about.com/od/arboricult ... .htm#step1
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jebmke
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by jebmke » Tue Dec 27, 2016 5:53 pm

We have a very large red oak right next to the house. he tree guys took a look and said it would be safer to go up in and prune to cut down on wind resistance. They also noticed that it had two leads off the trunk so they put in a cable tying them together - you can't even see it -- but it will keep the tree from twisting and splitting in high wind.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Dec 27, 2016 6:05 pm

jebmke wrote:We have a very large red oak right next to the house. he tree guys took a look and said it would be safer to go up in and prune to cut down on wind resistance. They also noticed that it had two leads off the trunk so they put in a cable tying them together - you can't even see it -- but it will keep the tree from twisting and splitting in high wind.


Sounds like you used the same guys I did, I also had the cable installed as my very large pin oak had the same thing - two leads off the main trunk. BTW, the main trunk was 30 feet tall - this tree was just stupendous, too bad I had to have it taken down, but it was rotting from the inside of trunk out. Could not chance it with a wingspan of 80 feet across and 75+ feet high, the damage would have been catastrophic. :(
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Carlton
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by Carlton » Tue Dec 27, 2016 9:24 pm

Go with the pro. I made the mistake of having a local gardener cut down a sizable spruce tree next to my driveway. Had branches in my front yard for a week till he hauled them away. Was also supposed to grind out the stump so area could be planted with shrubs, he shows up with this dinky little grinder like something you would rent from Home Depot. Barely got 6" down into the base.

Next year I needed a couple of large fir trees removed and a sycamore shaped up. Called a local, professional tree aborist. He showed up with around 12 men, 2 giant branch chippers, huge dollys to remove the tree trunk pieces from the rear yard. They were done in around 3 hours, everything cleaned up and raked. Later that day a boom grappler truck picked up the tree trunks from the curb. Next day a guy shows up with a crawler-type Vermeer stump grinder that made short work of grinding the stumps and roots 3-4' down into the earth.

The professional tree service was more money, but a much better value for the level of service provided.

tomd37
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by tomd37 » Tue Dec 27, 2016 9:28 pm

Carlton - Did that person really grind the stump and roots 3 to 4 feet into the earth? Have never seen a grinder that could go that deep!
Tom D.

TallBoy29er
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by TallBoy29er » Tue Dec 27, 2016 10:45 pm

I had a tree hit fall and hit part of my neighbor's house once. Natural causes, and although I did not have to, I paid for the repairs. I would not let someone volitionally cut down a tree who did not have proper coverage. If they error, either they, or you, are on the hook. Upon which of those two parties does the risk best bear?

jebmke
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by jebmke » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:03 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
jebmke wrote:We have a very large red oak right next to the house. he tree guys took a look and said it would be safer to go up in and prune to cut down on wind resistance. They also noticed that it had two leads off the trunk so they put in a cable tying them together - you can't even see it -- but it will keep the tree from twisting and splitting in high wind.


Sounds like you used the same guys I did, I also had the cable installed as my very large pin oak had the same thing - two leads off the main trunk. BTW, the main trunk was 30 feet tall - this tree was just stupendous, too bad I had to have it taken down, but it was rotting from the inside of trunk out. Could not chance it with a wingspan of 80 feet across and 75+ feet high, the damage would have been catastrophic. :(

A proper thinning job takes the pressure off the root system and make the tree more drought resistant. Because we have pretty poor clay soil they apply a feeding in he spring. The clay soil just can't support heavy tree growth. A lot of folks plant decent trees and then nothing happens.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

jebmke
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by jebmke » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:09 pm

tomd37 wrote:Carlton - Did that person really grind the stump and roots 3 to 4 feet into the earth? Have never seen a grinder that could go that deep!

Ours usually go down a foot or two. Then I hit the root zone with a heavy dose of Milorganite and Lime to accelerate the decomp of the remaining roots. Cap it with topsoil a few inches above grade to allow for subsidence and in a year it looks like there was nothing there. We have taken out over 50 trees on the property and you can't see the stump line on any of them except the latest ones.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

NOLA
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Re: Cutting Trees in the Back Yard

Post by NOLA » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:38 pm

mouses wrote:
btenny wrote:Go find a certified arborist who trims trees for the local govt people.


I would not recommend this. I called the town when a low hanging branch on a sidewalk tree needed to be removed (the town owned sidewalk trees) because it was blocking passage on the sidewalk, and their people turned both sidewalk trees, mature decades old trees, into lollipop trees. I could have cried.

People who work for the government are interested in making work, even if it doesn't need to be done. That's how they justify their jobs.


Not in my city. Most government workers try not to do much work at all:-)

Took more than a year for the city to come out and trim the tree on the sidewalk by our house.

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