How to Get Rid of a Tree

Trees are often beautiful additions to our lawns and gardens. They’re also integral to our planet’s survival. You don’t have to be a tree-hugger to appreciate them.

Yet sometimes you may find yourself coming to a difficult decision to remove a tree from your property. Most people opt to remove trees for the following reasons:

  • Disease, damage or infestations. Trees can also get sick or have overwhelming infestations of tree-damaging insects like termites. In order to protect other trees and yourself (because rotting branches mean falling branches), it’s time to take out the axe.
  • Damage to structures. You can sometimes guide how trees grow, but sometimes they get their own way and may cause damage to your house and other structures in your property.
  • Renovations. Renovations on your property may necessitate tree removal.
  • Maintenance. Some people just cannot take care of trees, and it may be best to take it out mercifully than to prolong its neglect-caused agony.

If you have decided that your tree has to go, here are some tips on getting rid of it.
How to Remove a Tree

Most, if not all, states require a permit before having a tree removed or even pruned, whether it be on a private or public property. Check with the local government first before taking any steps towards tree removal. You may also request your local government to provide free services in tree removal when applicable.

Remember: removing trees is dangerous work. In the case of big trees, it’s often best to let professionals do it.

  • Identify the tree. Some specific tree types are mandated to be taken down only by local government so it’s always best to identify what kind of tree you wish to take down.
  • Age. How long has the tree been around? If you don’t know, try to ask your neighbors who have been around longer. You can also have it assessed by an arborist or a tree specialist.
  • Measurement. Take measurements of the tree. Some local government units may allow you to take down a tree without having to file a permit if the tree is relatively small and young.
  • Position of the tree. This is important in identifying whether the tree is city or privately owned.
  • Assess damage. Identify infestations if there are any, or disease plaguing the affected tree, by listing down its symptoms. You may also contact an arborist for this purpose. Most permits require this information from the tree owner.
  • Take pictures. Pictures of the tree are usually requested when filing a permit. It is also useful if you want to hire professionals to remove your tree.
  • File a permit. Check your local government’s website on their regulations on tree removal in your locality. Take note of all the requirements and paper work that’s needed. Filing a permit for tree removal may cost you around $75 to $200, depending on the work you wish to be done and your local government’s regulations in removing specific species of trees.
  • Assess what work you want done. Ask yourself, what kind of work do you want? What is needed? Do you want the tree removed completely? Do you want it pruned? Do you want it transplanted? Be very specific because chances are, this information will be needed when filing for a permit and when contracting professional help in tree removal.
  • Hire an arborist. Tree removal is no joke. It usually requires heavy machinery, heavy labor and a knowledge of the best way to remove it. Some states require professionals for tree removal. Look in the Yellow Pages for ‘tree removal’ or ‘tree surgery’ for professionals in your area. You can also ask for references from your local government or from people in the neighborhood.

What to Look for When Hiring Professional Help

  • Contract. The contract should specify what specific actions will be done in the tree removal process. Be wary of contractors looking for advanced pay, especially if they have not seen what kind of work needs to be done. Remember, the more specific the contract is on how they will remove the tree, the better.
  • Insurance. It cannot be mentioned enough: Tree removal is dangerous work. The people who are doing this work may get in a serious accident, and you must make sure that the contractor has adequate insurance for their workers. Request the contractor’s certificates of liability and workman’s compensation. Call the insurance company for their policy information.
  • Emergency action. Ask your contractor if they are ready to take appropriate action in the event of a mishap such as damaging electrical or phone wires in the course of their job.

Terms to Familiarize Yourself With

You may run into these terms when discussing tree removal with your hired arborist, epsecially when specifying what kind of work you want done on your tree:

  • Limbing. The process of removing branches from a felled tree.
  • Stumping. Removing the stump of a felled tree.
  • Pruning. The process of removing the unwanted portions of a plant. Depending on the scale, pruning trees may also require a permit from the local government.

How to Remove a Small Tree

When you’ve ascertained that you can remove a small tree by yourself (following the local government’s mandates on tree removal), here’s how to do it:

First, get the following materials–

  • Landscape bar / All-utility bar

Using the pruning saw, cut off the top/trunk of the tree measuring around four feet high. Leave all the smaller branches below that.

Using your spade, dig a trench around the stump of the tree. The farther you make the trench around the stump, the better. Dig away from the stump, throwing the soil away to reveal the tree roots.

Once you have made a fairly deep trench around to reveal most of the roots, you can then use the landscape bar to cut the roots from the soil. Make a stabbing motion and use the bar as a lever to push the stump upwards. This may be a little tough, but keep going at it.

Once the stump and its roots are loose enough, you may now remove it completely from the soil.

Note: NEVER use your car or any other vehicle in removing a small tree or a tree stump (ie, using a rope to connect a stump to your vehicle in order to pull it out). It will just cause damage to your car and lawn, leaving the stump unmoved.

Removing trees is definitely no walk in the park and requires a lot of hard work and–in the case of larger trees—lots of paperwork. Don’t worry, there are set guidelines for any kind and scale of tree removal, and as long as you follow them, you can rest assured that you will get clean work done with minimal to no damage at all.

Click here for more information on how to get rid of a tree.

About the author

Nicole Harding

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