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Saving Money on Tree Removal

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Tree trimmer up in a tree, cutting it down.

Removing trees yourself is not always an option. However, it can be very expensive to have someone come do it for you. This is a guide to saving money on tree removal.


Solutions: Saving Money on Tree Removal

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Article: Recognizing When Trees Become Hazardous

A large tree that has fallen into a houseA tree that topples at the wrong time or in the wrong place can cause significant damage to your home and property. Worse yet is the possibility that it could injure or kill someone. Here are some guidelines to help you recognize whether or not a tree has become a hazard, and as well as some steps you can take to correct the situation.

What is A "Hazard" Tree

The U.S. Forest Service defines a "hazard tree" as one with structural defects that are likely to cause the failure of all or part of the tree, which could result in striking a "target." A target can be a vehicle, building, or a place where people gather such as a park bench, picnic table, street, or backyard.

The Most Likely Candidates

Certain trees are more likely to become hazardous due to any number of contributing factors:
  • Age: Older trees have been exposed to environmental factors for many years and may become hazardous due to the accumulated effects of age. Young trees are susceptible, too. Aspen, for example, are known to be prone to breakage when they are young due to decay and disease. Tall trees are susceptible to lightning strikes, which can jump to nearby buildings.

  • Species: Some tree species are more susceptible to injuries. For example, splits can occur on the trunk of the tree as well as on branches. Trees which are most susceptible to this type of injury are those which are thin-barked, such as certain fruit trees. Maple and ash are prone to weak branch unions, while birch tend to "self-prune" as they decay, eventually leaving only a hollow trunk.

  • Location: Trees bordering wooded areas, roads, driveways, and parking lots, risk greater exposure to storms and other environmental stressors. Trees near construction zones may suffer root damage during land clearing. Those growing in saturated or shallow ground are more susceptible to toppling due to the ground giving way.

Assessing the Risks

An annual visual inspection of your trees is a good way to spot potential problems. A pair of binoculars can help you assess the hard-to-see upper branches of tall trees. A tree with defects only becomes hazardous when it has the potential to hit a target. Keep in mind though, that not all defects are structural. A tree appearing structurally sound can still be a hazard if it obstructs the view of a passing motorist, causes a sidewalk to buckle, or interferes with nearby power lines.

When performing your inspection, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the tree appear healthy? Does it still produce needles or leaves?

  • Has the tree lost large branches recently? Are any of the remaining branches dead?

  • Are wide (or deep) cracks visible in the trunk, branches, or branch unions?

  • Is the tree producing heavy new growth around topping cuts?

  • Are there broken branches dangling from the tree?

  • Are branches close to interfering with power lines or windows?

  • Are the roots causing damage to a nearby foundation?

  • Are fungus (mushrooms) growing on the tree's roots?

  • Are hollows or cankers (dead spots) visible on the trunk?

  • Is the tree leaning? If the tree falls, could it hit a car, house, utility line, or person?

  • Have the roots, trunk, or branches been recently injured by storms or construction?

Investigate Your Options

If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, you may want to have the tree evaluated by a certified arborist or tree professional and give you recommendations on corrective action. Before deciding what action to take, investigate your options.
  • Relocating the target. It's a cheap and easy solution, but one that's often overlooked. If target objects like swing sets, cars, and picnic tables can be physically relocated, your problem is solved.

  • Corrective pruning. You may be able to remove dead or damaged roots and/or branches through pruning without having to disturb the rest of the tree.

  • Removal. If over 30 to 50 percent of the main branches or trunk are severely split, broken, or mutilated, the benefit of extensive repairs is probably questionable. This is usually a job best left to the professionals.

Hiring a Good Tree Service

When getting estimates for work, look for companies that employ certified arborists. Make sure they carry the proper state certification and licenses and that they are fully insured. You can find one near you by visiting and typing in your zip code.

Trees don't live forever, but removing the hazard doesn't always mean removing the tree. Always consider the risk as well as the long-term consequences. Then try to create a landscape plan that allows for the perpetual cycle of planting, maintaining and replacing trees.

By Ellen Brown

Tip: Check For Free Tree Removal

We live in a mobile home park. There are California State rules for them which must be followed by all park owners. One of them is that if a tree poses a danger to people or property, the owner of the park must remove it. We had 2 trees removed from our space for free this way. You should look up the rule yourself to see if you qualify.

By DeBushe from Gilroy, CA

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Here are questions related to Saving Money on Tree Removal.

Question: Finding Someone to Cut Trees for the Wood

I have a lot of trees I need removed, but I have little income. I want to find some people who will take them for the wood. Can you help me with suggestions?

By number1mom0


Most Recent Answer

By Mary Nelson [3]03/18/2013

Try posting it on Craig's List.

Question: Fair Price for Tree Removal

I have 2 sweet gum trees that are about 10 feet from the house . One is about 60 ft tall and the other is about 45. What is a fair price to have it topped or even removed?

By Adam E from Zebulon, NC


Most Recent Answer

By Frugal Sunnie [11]12/07/2011

Check with your local extension service before accepting that lowest bid-the cheapest often isn't the best and you could be dealing with people who don't know how to safely remove trees of that size.

The extension service will have a page on its website telling you how to safely remove a large tree, and that information is what you should use in choosing a service. The company that knows how to safely remove trees that big will be happy to describe the process they would use for your job-if they either don't describe the right process, or are unwilling to tell you precisely how they will remove your trees then that is not a company you should trust to do a good, safe job.

Taking down a tree is complicated, dangerous work. It has to be done carefully or you will have a real mess! An inexperienced or unskilled tree removal can cause quite a lot of damage-tree roots could be wrapped around your gas and water lines for example, a qualified company knows how to figure this out before causing you unexpected surprises.

Part of the job estimate should include removing the debris (but see below for more info on removal of debris), and grinding any stumps left in the ground.

You can usually work a discount by asking the company to run smaller debris through a chipper and then using the resulting chips as decorative mulch; any good company will also offer to cut and stack the wood for seasoning to use in your fireplace. They will charge you for that.

Some tree removal companies will try to charge you for removal of 'debris' that they will actually sell on as firewood-make sure your contract precludes them making double dips! If they are going to sell your 'debris' on, you should get a bit of a discount on the removal.

Question: Free Tree Removal

I have a extremely large tree in my back yard and I would like for it to be removed for free. I live in the city of Detroit, Michigan. Does anyone know how I might have this done, or what company I can call?


Most Recent Answer

By wiffy81 [1]06/29/2012

Alt of people advertise in craigslist about your situation. Make a post letting licensed people know that you have a tree in the backyard you need removed for free and that they can cut it down for free firewood. You'll get plenty of responses. Just make sure the person is licensed and insured.

Question: Finding Someone to Remove Trees in Exchange for the Wood

I have 2 maple trees that I would like to be removed (for free, in exchange for the wood/big trunk). I live in Massachusetts, north shore area. Does anyone know how I can go about this process?

By Susan D.

Most Recent Answer

By Suntydt [75]05/09/2012

You can post on Craigslist for your area in the FREE section. If you aren't familiar with Craigslist it is and you narrow down to the closest area nearest you on the right. I would be careful though, if the trees can fall on anything that could be a potential accident waiting to happen. You won't want just anyone dropping your trees.

You can also look on Craigslist for someone wanting wood in exchange for cutting it down.

You can try contacting a lumber mill, they may be interested in the wood and would know how to drop the trees without causing damage.

You can also call a lawn service and see if they know anyone they would recommend. Many landscape businesses recommend different businesses for services they don't offer.

Question: Free Tree Removal in Maryland

I have three huge oak trees that are between 50 and 75 feet tall that have died. I would like to find someone that would remove these trees that is licensed and bonded that would not charge me for the removal. Any suggestions?

    By Debbie Citro H. [1]

    Most Recent Answer

    By Dinah Ackerson [2]04/30/2015

    Many people want to have trees removed from their property. Often someone tells them that tree removal services will pay them to remove trees from their property. Unfortunately, they face many problems:

    *Tree removal companies are not interested in paying the owner in small jobs, such as a few acres of trees, as their costs in insurance, machinery and workers are very high.
    *Some companies may be interested in a larger project if the property owner pays the company, however, the land owner might then find that the company sells the trees to lumber companies. The tree company then has the tree removal payment and the lumber sale payment, as well.
    *Insurance liabilities on both sides can be very high as tree removal is a dangerous job and companies must carry high insurance costs for injury to workers and property. The property owner may face injury and damage costs, and legal problems, as well. Tree removal companies are required to carry insurance and bond for their company and workers but this does not mean the property owner does not need coverage for the property and possible injuries etc.
    *Depending on the area or state of the property, the owner may face permit requirements, historic, cultural and other limitations in removing trees from a property.
    *Frequently property owners may find they need an attorney to address the issues and prepare a contract.

    So, an answer to your question is not simple. You may find a tree removal service by putting an ad on Craigslist, etc., but you still face all the issues above with no guarantees.

    You should discuss your plans with an attorney familiar with land use and then make an informed decision.

    A caveat here-be careful not to provide the property address or even the general location of the trees to any company or person you might find from Craigslist, etc., before signing a contract. You may find that someone has removed the trees from your property without your knowledge.

    Question: Finding Someone to Remove Trees for Free

    We have 13 pine tree's we would like to have removed from our yard. They would make great utility poles. We live in Elberta, Alabama.

    By Tonya

    Most Recent Answer

    By jean leiner [14]10/24/2012

    In my area of western New York, I frequently see ads on Freecycle and on the free section of Craigslist for free trees/free firewood. You could look into placing such an ad and see what responses you get, assuming you have these groups in your area. Hope this helps.