For the DIY homeowner, outsourcing tree work may seem like an unnecessary expense. In reality, the costs of tackling tree care on your own can run high. “Most homeowners simply don’t have the tools, knowledge or experience necessary to safely attempt their own tree work,” says Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) Staff Arborist Tchukki Andersen.
Safe tree work requires extensive knowledge of tree physics and biology, which can take years of experience and study to acquire. For example, felling a tree in a controlled manner is not as simple as cutting through the trunk with a chain saw. It requires establishing a drop zone, making precise cuts, and sometimes guiding the tree safely to the ground with ropes as leverage.
Up-ended root plates or root balls are also unpredictable. Severing the trunk of a fallen tree from an up-ended root plate releases tension, which may be strong enough to pull the stump and root ball back into the hole, trapping anything nearby underneath it.
Other hazards may be invisible to the untrained eye. Rotten trunks and limbs, pest and fungal infestation and other defects can only be identified and treated by an experience tree care practitioner.
In addition, many trees grow near power lines and have their branches, leaves and limbs entangled in live wires. Navigating this danger is challenging even for professionals, and should never be attempted by homeowners under any circumstance.
Homeowners may also be unaware of proper tool usage, especially when using chain saws and ladders. Common mistakes are to use a dull saw, which forces the operator to use excess pressure and potentially lose control of the tool, and to saw branches on the ground, which can result in kickback. Ladders that are too short, on unstable ground or supported by a faulty limb can easily result in injury.
Tree work may also require tools the average homeowner does not own, such as stump grinders, wood chippers and aerial lifts.
The best option for homeowners seeking tree work or removal on their property is to consult with a professional arborist.