DIY Versus Professional Tree Removal

Sep 18, 2020

Unfortunately, sometimes you just have to get a tree removed. Tree removal should always be a last resort because of how much they add to your yard — both visually and in terms of property value. But there are a few situations where it’s unavoidable:

  • The tree is dead or dying
  • Storm damage
  • Too close to your house or power lines
  • Blocking light or views

If you encounter one of these issues, you should first contact an arborist to make sure your tree is beyond saving.

When you’re absolutely certain a tree needs to be removed, you’re faced with a couple of options: 

  • Do you want to remove the tree yourself? 
  • Or do you want to hire an arborist to do it for you?

DIY Tree Removal Might Work for You, But There Are Risks

While it’s generally not advisable, sometimes it’s possible to remove a tree yourself.

If it’s small enough, with a trunk under 10 inches in diameter, you may be able to get it done on your own. That’s as long as there are no power lines nearby.

DIY tree removal is sometimes cheaper on a case-by-case basis, but you lose out on the value that a certified arborist provides. You could, for example, damage your property or create a safety hazard.

Check Local Ordinances

Many cities have laws that would prevent you from performing your own tree removal, or require you to get a permit before starting work. Be sure to check before you break out any equipment. 

Here in Fort Worth, you need to apply for a permit before removing a tree if your property is greater than one acre, the tree is of a certain species, its diameter is greater than 6 inches, or any of several other criteria. 

If the tree has fallen from government property onto your own land, you’ll also probably need to contact the authorities rather than try removing it yourself.

If You Go with DIY, There Are A Couple Of Things To Keep In Mind

Sometimes you only need to remove a stump, in which case you may consider using a truck to pull it up. We don’t recommend this method. It’s difficult to tell how tough the roots are going to be to get loose, and you could end up damaging your transmission.

You should always water the soil around the base of the tree the day before removal. That way it’ll be easier to work with.

First, measure your tree trunk. For every inch of diameter, dig 6 inches into the ground to reach the entire root system. Next, dig around the roots. Then try to wiggle the tree out. Hopefully it doesn’t give too much resistance.

Pro Tree Removal Is Your Best Bet in Most Situations

First of all, it’s safer. If you’re trying to remove a tree yourself, especially a larger one, it can be difficult to predict which direction it’ll fall. If the trunk does fall in an unexpected way, it can cause damage to your property or powerlines.

Remember, if the tree has a diameter of 10 or more inches you should hire an arborist.

Pro Tree Removal is More Reliable

The fact is, a pro will make sure the job gets done thoroughly. In many situations, a person tries to remove a stump and is unable to do so, or they don’t get rid of a tree’s entire root system and don’t realize until later. A certified arborist will be able to safely remove a tree, or grind a stump to your desired height, without the need for repeat visits.

It Saves Time and Money in the Long Run

Professionals have the necessary equipment. If you go out and buy tools yourself, you may find that they’re not the right ones for the job. Even if the tree removal goes well, you probably won’t need to use the new equipment again for a long time. The expenses add up. Stump grinders, for example, cost a couple thousand dollars.

If your property has many trees, you should have a certified arborist come by fairly regularly anyway to trim and prune. See what they think about your tree removal project. But chances are, if you’re dealing with a medium or large tree, you’ll want to have a professional remove it.

Brandon Crowell

Brandon Crowell is the owner and operator of Arbor Leaf Tree Care. He is a certified arborist who, for more than 18 years, has helped Dallas/Fort Worth-area homeowners retain the natural beauty and value of their properties. He is on call 24/7, 365 days a year.
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