Why Tree Work Should Not Be Your Next DIY Home Project

For some homeowners the never-ending cost of repairs and upkeep can be daunting. We all like to save money and many of us take pride in the projects we can do ourselves. Tree trimming and pruning may sound easy, but the risks involved are far greater than many other home improvement chores. “Most homeowners simply don’t have the tools, knowledge or experience necessary to safely attempt their own tree work,” says Tchukki Anderson, BCMA CTSP and staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). “We hear unfortunate stories each year of homeowners getting severely injured or killed while attempting this dangerous, and often misunderstood, work on their own.”

Consider these three reasons for leaving tree care to the professionals:

Arborists Have Knowledge and Training

It can take years to learn enough about tree physics and biology to create a knowledge base that allows you to safely remove a large tree. Felling a tree in a controlled manner is more complicated then using a chainsaw and yelling, “Timber!” You have to establish a drop zone, make proper cuts and often guide the tree safely to the ground using ropes as leverage. Most accidents occur when the tree falls in an unpredicted direction. In fact, a 2009 study performed by The U.S. Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries found that the primary cause of injury related to tree trimming was branches and limbs falling in unexpected directions.

Another, often unexpected hazard, is an up-ended root plate or root ball. When a tree is down, severing the trunk from an up-ended root plate releases tension. This release may be strong enough to pull the stump and root ball back into the hole, trapping anything or anyone nearby underneath it.

Arborists are also trained to recognize rotten trunks and limbs, pests and fungal infestations, and other diseases the average homeowner won’t detect. Early detection is often the best line of defense in saving the tree and preventing accidents.

Proper Tool Use

You may own a chainsaw but have you been properly trained to use and care for it? Many homeowners mistakenly use a dull chainsaw, exerting too much pressure and loosing control of the saw. Another common mistake is using a chain saw to cut branches on the ground. Painful injuries can result from chain saw “kickback” when the bar tip hits the dirt or other foliage.

Now that you’re all decked out in your hardhat, gloves and safety goggles with your trusty chainsaw and gas pole pruner by your side, have you considered the equipment you don’t have? Stump grinders, wood chippers and aerial lifts are just a few examples of, complex and often necessary machines, which should only be operated by trained arborists. Trying to “scare” these up at the last minute could be quite costly.

Unknown or Unrecognized Hazards

Arborists are highly trained in situational awareness … they are in the field everyday and they recognize potential hazards that the average homeowner doesn’t. A tree care professional can access what needs to be done when the tree is near a power line. Electrocution is the third reason (after fall and struck by) for serious injury or fatality in tree care accidents. Every year, a number of amateur tree workers are killed when they come in contact with an energized line, directly or indirectly, through tools or tree limbs.

If you do attempt to work on you tree yourself, never do it alone. Being aware of your surrounding and potential hazards is easier with a second pair of eyes. Trained professionals work in teams for a reason!

We all want to save money where we can. Weigh the cost of risk carefully with large trees and call Joe Benigno’s Tree Service for an estimate…we will be truthful and fair about the work scope, costs and risks involved.

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