There’s a strong temptation for some homeowners to try DIY tree surgery.
This article has been written to help you decide whether you should employ a tree surgeon or tree service or try and do it yourself.
Overgrown or light blocking trees can be a nuisance for you or your neighbours. They can be structurally dangerous for nearby buildings and devalue your property. There’s a lot at stake.
Is tree surgery easy?
It doesn’t help us that discovery and outdoor channels on the TV are full of lumber companies in Canada and Oregon showing us dramatic base cuts and trees falling in one piece. They make it look easy and in the process we forget that our semi detached house isn’t sitting alone in a forest.
Dangerous trees. Is DIY tree surgery a good idea?
A starting point is this: look at the height of the tree and where the tree is standing. The taller the tree and the more enclosed the space the harder and more dangerous it will be to remove it or manage it. Forget the TV and ask how much training, knowledge and experience of tree surgery you have. If the answer is ‘very little’ then pat yourself on the back. Your honesty may have just saved you and your family from a world of pain.
Professional tree surgery vs DIY tree surgery
A professional tree surgeon brings arboriculture (trees) knowledge and the right equipment and experience to your job. It’s how professionals get tree surgeon insurance.
- The physics of tree surgery and the physics of tree felling: there are massive forces of energy stored up under tension and compression in even the most innocent looking tree in your garden. The wrong type of cut in the wrong place can unleash those forces like a catapult on people or things in the way. Understanding what leverage is needed (and where) is part of tree surgery training.
- Gravity and tree felling: how things fall, how they lean, where they could fall and the potential for damage is what tree surgeons train for (and are insured to know about).
- The effects of wind on tree surgery: a gust of wind can change everything for the worse very quickly – professional tree surgeons plan for this – it’s unlikely to have been considered as part of a DIY tree surgery project.
- Tree removal piece by piece: It’s just not like logging on the TV. Tree felling in urban environments, surrounded by houses, roads, electricity cables and phone lines is never one cut and a shout of ‘timberrrrrr’. Professional urban tree felling is usually piece by piece working from the top downwards. You need to be a qualified climber for this job. You may even need to use a crane for support and removal.
- Tree removal and the law: a qualified, insured professional tree service will advise you on what is and isn’t possible in your garden and street. It’s always best to find out first.
So, in answer to the question ‘should I hire a professional tree service or do it myself?’ there is a simple 2 part answer:
If you have the right knowledge, equipment and experience and it’s a very small tree, that’s safely located, then the cost of DIY could be much cheaper.
If it’s for anything but minor work we are with the Royal Horticultural Society on this – do yourself a big favour and seek professional help.
If you want to see our report on the 4 things to look for in a tree surgeon, before you book you can find it here.