It is time for part 2 in my Fall Yard care Checklist series. In the last article, we covered prepping your lawn for the coming winter, and how to give your lawn the best chances for winter survival and rebound in the springtime. We also covered the importance of cleaning up and removing the leaves. As the weather continues to get colder, your lawn’s growth slows down and now it is time to start focusing on your trees. Snow and ice build up can cause branches and tree limbs to break off and fall, posing possible problems such as damage to your home, and causing electrical outages if those limbs happen to fall onto a power line. Trimming back branches and removing the old, dead limbs in the fall will help avoid additional clean up and potential property damage from fallen limbs during the winter.
Now that most of the leaves are gone from the trees, it is time to take a look at the trees in your yard. Take note of which trees are closest to your home/garage/shed; Are any of the branches or limbs touching or over hanging your structures? Also take a look at any trees that might be over your drive way as these branches and limbs could fall onto your vehicles, fall down blocking your driveway completely. Next, you will want to pay attention to any power lines that run near by or through your trees. Any potential falling limb in these areas could also cause power lines to come down, causing a loss of power to your home and your neighbors; not to mention how dangerous a downed power line on your property can be.
Once you have thoroughly surveyed your property and have a solid idea of which branches and limbs need to be trimmed back and/or removed, the next step is to decide whether you want do the work, or hire a professional to handle the job. Keep in mind the difficulty of the job – How high are the branches/limbs in question? How big those branches and limbs are, and if there are any that need to be removed/trimmed away from power lines. All of these questions need to be addressed and safety must be considered in order to achieve the desired result safely with no collateral damage to people and property. Hiring a pro and doing the job yourself both have their own challenges.
HANDLING THE WORK YOURSELF
If you choose to do the work yourself, then you will want to consider the equipment needed for the job, the cost of renting or purchasing the equipment you do not currently have, as well as safety and of course your experience with tree trimming and limb removal. Overall, You will want to address safety concerns seriously and be completely honest with yourself on your experience, skills and ability to perform the work safely. This is especially true if you need to work near/around power lines, the branches are high in the tree and/or are particularly large in size. Failure to accurately access the job, the areas you will work in, your experience level and dealing with branches/limbs that are close to power lines could spell disaster. If you hesitate at or even slightly doubt any of the items in the checklist below, STOP and hire a professional to handle the work. The money you spend will be well worth avoiding serious injury, property damage and possibly having to deal with downed power lines.
1) Do you have the right tools for the job?
Depending on the size and scope of the job, Equipment such as a pole pruner saw, chain saw, and wood chipper may be required. At the very least, a pole saw and a good chain saw will be necessary. Regardless of the tools required for your job, being knowledgeable and able to safely use them is the top priority. If you need to purchase power equipment, your local power equipment dealer is able to help by making recommendations based upon your needs, your experience and your ability to properly and safely operate and control the equipment. Once you have the equipment you will need, make sure you fully read and understand the owner’s manual. Good operation not only includes adhering to safe use practices, but also the ability to be in full control of your equipment regardless of the situation.
2) Consider the difficulty of the job.
Tree branches and limbs can be heavy and unwieldy. Because you will be working over your head, it is easy to misjudge how and where a limb or branch may fall. The larger the limb, the bigger the safety concern. Serious injury and property damage can result from felling limbs, so you must decide if your experience and skill level is up to the task. Once again, if you doubt your ability at all, STOP and look into hiring a professional tree service. Again, the money spent is well worth avoiding injury and property damage.
3) Consider how you will dispose of unwanted branches, limbs and debris.
You essentially have two options for disposal; 1) haul tree waster to the local dump, or recycle the waste by utilizing a wood chipper. Dropping off the tree waste at the dump requires a vehicle big enough to haul the waste
If you plan to recycle the freshly felled limbs, branches and related debris, You will need to purchase or rent a wood chipper. This machine will chop up your tree waste into a usable mulch that is perfect for landscaping and to protect your garden and flower bed’s soil during the winter. chipper machines must also be operated in a safe manner, as these machines can also cause serious injury. Wood chippers are usually larger machines that either require a trailer to transport to and from the job. There are small form factor chippers available to purchase. However, you will want to keep in mind the diameter of the branches you plan to run through a chipper. Wood chippers come in different sizes designed to handle different diameter branches and limbs, so you need to choose one that will handle the needs of your particular job. Also, keep in ind that wood chippers will produce a fair amount of dust and smaller debris, so post job clean up will be necessary depending on where you need to use a chipper.
HIRING A PROFESSIONAL TREE SERVICE
If you choose to hire a professional, the first thing to remember is that this time of the year is busy for tree service companies and also the most competitive. Many of these companies offer free quotes so take advantage of this and shop around. Make sure you ask questions and get all the information you need to make an educated decision. Here is a checklist of things you will want in a qualified professional tree service:
1) Is the company licensed and insured / How much is their per-incident coverage?
2) What are the company’s procedures for dealing with trimming/removing branches around power lines? Are they required to get the local power company involved?
3) Are there additional charges for working around power lines?
4) Is Clean up/removal included? Will their vehicles need to be driven onto your lawn?