For six months now, I have been sharing with you various aspects of tree knowledge and advice. The whole point of this column is to bring homeowners relevant information that will benefit you in your tree care endeavors.
Unfortunately, in the last year, I have come across an increasing number of homeowners who took on more than they could handle, and were injured or did significant property damage in their attempt to save a few bucks. Here are some of their stories.
About a year ago, I received a call from a resident in Schererville regarding a tree removal in the side yard. The tree in question was a fairly simple job. I went to the front door and gave the owner the written estimate which I believe was around $400. By the look on his face, I could tell he was hoping for a lower number. He kindly thanked me for coming out and said he would call us when they were ready to do the job. We did not hear anything back from him until April of this year. He called and asked for another estimate. This estimate form was in my stack for the day, and upon pulling up to the house I realized I had been here before. The estimate request varied only slightly from the first time. This one only asked for half a tree to come down. Before I went to the door, I walked around the side of the house. The top half of the tree, being partially cut, was hanging by the remaining wood. Next to the house, was a badly twisted aluminum extension ladder. I went to the front and rang the doorbell. The same gentleman as the first time came to the door. Before he had a chance to say anything, I kindly asked him how badly he was hurt trying to cut the tree. He hung his head with a slight smile and said he twisted his back, broke his tailbone, and missed five weeks of work. All to save a few bucks.
Only 2 months ago I gave a quote on another removal job. The owner had personally taken several smaller trees out in the yard. He had second thoughts about tackling the two larger trees along the garage and fence. Considering the price of removal and his successful completion of the smaller trees, he decided to attempt the two bigger trees. About three weeks later I was informed that this homeowner had fallen 12' off his ladder while attempting the removal and had landed on the concrete driveway. He broke his back in two places narrowly escaping permanent paralysis. His recovery is expected to take 10-12 months, and he may have lasting physical limitations from the injury.
Tree work can be very dangerous. You must know your abilities and your limitations. When in doubt, hire it out! Years of training are undergone to become a proficient tree climber/bucket operator.
Twice, in my 25 years of tree work, I have finished trees that the previous cutter died attempting. I've done numerous trees where homeowners had been hurt prior to calling us. These are situations I hate to see, especially since they are easy to avoid. When in doubt, hire it out!
Russell Hodge is a Certified Arborist and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.