There is no doubt that one of the most aesthetically pleasing aspects of a home’s landscaping is its trees. In fact, you may often take the trees for granted, or even consider them a bit of a nuisance in that you’ll need to mow and/or build backyard fixtures around them.

Having trees on your property is generally only a plus, especially when they’re young and healthy trees. But if you live in the shade of an older or perhaps even diseased tree, you may want to check up on it and start thinking about getting it removed.

Thousands of home insurance claims are filed every year due to wind and storm damage, and one of the culprits is often a downed tree or branch that didn’t withstand the storm. So if you suspect that this is at least a possibility for your home, here’s a few things that you’ll need to know before getting a tree removed.

When Trees Should Be Removed

The first step in tree removal is actually determining whether you need to get the tree removed. You might think that spotting an old or dying tree is a straightforward process, but this is not always the case. There may be signs of tree damage long before a tree actually begins to look unhealthy. Early detection is the best preventative.

Warning signs can include hollow or visibly decaying trees, cracks in the trunk, and even mushroom growth in the surrounding soil. And even if your tree does seem healthy, branches that cross or hang over a roof or powerline may be a red flag for removal.

Make Sure You’re in the Legal Clear

If you’ve done an inspection and think a pruning or removal project may be in order, you may want to first check your local laws to make sure that tree alteration on your property is in the legal clear. Laws regarding tree removal and trimming will obviously vary by locality as well as change constantly, so even if you’ve done some prior research it may be good to check for an update with a quick Google search.

Some localities only require that you get the green light for removal from a certified arborist, while some places won’t allow certain types of trees to be cut down at all, only transplanted. So it’s definitely something that you’ll want to consult your local laws about.

Removing a Tree Safely

If a tree on your property is damaged and you’re in the clear regarding local laws, your next concern is probably how to remove the tree safely. In almost all cases, the safest way to ensure that a tree removal is done safely is to call a professional tree removal company.

Contacting a professional company is a good idea even for smaller projects like pruning or trimming back branches, especially if they’re located over a house or near a powerline. Professional companies will have equipment tailored for the job, making things easier.

Taking Care of Debris

As you might guess, tree pruning or removal can be a messy process. Tree trimming and removal projects may not be something that can be completed in one day, either. Assuming that you want to at least somewhat use your yard during the process, you’ll want to think about how you plan to keep your yard free from dangerous debris. Self-dumping trash hoppers make a worksite safer by keeping dangerous debris off the ground.

Check for Credentials

Be sure to do your research beforehand to find out what sorts of questions you should ask a tree extraction company before you hire them. Many localities, for example, require a survey from a licensed arborist before anything can be removed from the property. Check beforehand and ensure that the companies you’re looking at match up with what you’ll actually need to complete a successful removal.

You’ll probably want to check to see if they have a certified arborist on staff, and conduct a review of their licenses and insurance, as well as what type of machinery they plan to use for your home’s project.

Get Multiple Quotes

Get multiple quotes when you’re talking to removal companies. Getting multiple quotes is always a good rule of thumb when hiring any company, but especially with a tree removal service project that can pretty quickly become quite involved, you’ll want to talk to multiple companies before choosing one. Prices and services are obvious factors, but it’s a good idea to also consider things such as ease of communication and responsiveness to your inquiries.

Avoid DIY Syndrome

After talking to several companies and doing a little of your own research, you may be tempted to just try and do the job yourself (perhaps with the help of a few YouTube tutorials). It’s generally agreed, though, that you should leave tree removals and extractions to the professionals and not attempt them yourself for safety concerns. Even pruning or cutting back a tree can become a complicated endeavour, and unless you have the necessary equipment can go wrong fairly quickly. So even though you might be the handyman do-it-yourself type, in this case it’s best to leave the trees to the professionals.

Check Referrals

Once you’ve settled on a removal company, make sure to ask them for a list of referrals. Any established and reputable company will be willing to share a roster of happy customers with you, so if this isn’t something they mention during the quoting process, ask for it!

And perhaps this goes without saying, but – once you’ve gotten the list of referrals, you should actually call at least some of the names to hear what past customers have to say.

Tree removal can be a big project – literally – but it’s one that happens everyday, all around the country. Remember to do a little research on your local laws, consult a certified arborist, and hire a professional company with good references, and you’ll likely be in for a successful tree removal project.

Read this next: What Can Happen When You Don’t Take Care of Your Trees

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