Lisa Certified Arborist PN-7110A
Lisa is a certfied arborist living, working, and blogging in the Portland area.
Tree Removal: Making the Decision to Remove a Tree
Making the decision to remove a tree can be a difficult one and is at the very least an irreversible one. Trees add value to the enjoyment of our homes and neighborhoods. They also have many environmental benefits. At the same time trees can be dangerous. They can cause damage to our homes and infrastructure and maintaining a tree over time also requires additional funds in our home maintenance budget, so all those additional benefits come at a price. Because all of those negative and positive factors need to be weighed it is helpful to use a process to making your tree removal decision. The process we recommend is described below:
1. Consider Your Goals for the Tree and Your Yard and Rank Them:For example if you have a tree next to your home and you have safety concerns for your home and your children at play, but you love the look of the tree and the shade it provides. You should rank those factors ei 1. Safety 2. Shade 3. Looks. You might even get more specific about what you like about the look of the tree or what your exact safety concerns are. If your property is a rental property you might have completely different goals such as reduce maintenance and liability ect.
If you simply have a tree you don’t like it is important to think about why you dislike the tree. For example we had a customer who wanted a tree removed because it dropped too much sap in the summer making her deck unusable. It was going to cost her about $3,000 to remove the tree. It turned out all she needed really needed was a $200-$400 treatment in the spring to prevent the aphids that were the actual sap producers. She is now enjoying her deck and her tree.
2. Find Out from Your Arborist What Your Options Are: Be clear with the arborist about your goals and ask the arborist in order to achieve these goals what your options are. Under your particular circumstances your may have the option to prune the tree, treat it, fertilize it, or remove it. It just depends on your specific circumstances.
There are also many cases where customers call us about pruning a tree and are not even considering removal and we have to give them the unfortunate news that in order to achieve their goals their tree must come out. If the customer’s goal is to eliminate branches overhanging the house, reduce the height of the tree, or stop a tree from uplifting concrete there are many cases where the only true answer to those problems is removal.
Why we recommend removal of a tree is often difficult for customer’s to understand. We don’t necessarily like to cut down healthy trees, but trees are renewable and they can be replanted and most cases it is better to remove a tree and start over with the right tree in the right location where it will grow and prosper over the long run then to provide a band-aide solution that only further advances an unsustainable situation. In addition is most cases delaying the inevitable increases the cost of the removal. There are of course exceptions such as very old very significant trees where a lot is lost in their removal and so monitoring them and easing them into the grave becomes preferable.
3. Find Out About the Rules and Regulation Regarding Tree Removal: The ultimate decision to remove a tree may not be up to you entirely. In many cases the final word is provided by the city through a tree removal permit process. This can even be the case if the tree is on your private property. Your arborist can be helpful here also either submitting a permit on your behalf or pointing you in the right direction.
Many cities have begun to crack down on unpermitted tree removal and the fines in most cases are in the thousands of dollars per tree so it is important to make sure you have your paper work in order before the crew begins work.
4. Now that You Have All the Facts Make Your Decision: It is my experience that once customers go through this process they can feel good about the decision they are making. I think this is because they are clear on the fact that what they are doing is for the best and that although there is a loss in the short run in the long run they are doing what is best of them, the tree, the property, and the community.
Customers can also be comforted by the fact that every part of the tree in reused. The wood is either milled into lumber or used as firewood and the chips are used as mulch to fight invasive plants and rebuild native habitats. Most of these materials are donated by us to nonprofits and municipalities.
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