As a consulting arborist and landscape designer I periodically recommend that a diseased, damaged or high risk tree be removed from a client’s property. It is not a recommendation I take lightly. Tree removal is expensive. It can also be emotional for the tree owner. Think about it. We often design entire landscapes around existing large, old specimen trees. When we lose a big tree like this we lose the focus of the garden, the shade, the bird habitat, the history.
I recently had to take out two large old pines from my backyard. They weren’t heritage trees. In fact, many consider Monterey pines planted inland away from their native California coastal environment to be junk trees. I had become attached to my pines and all the birds they supported. The trees dictated the focus of my backyard – a woodland garden. Something I had always wanted. Now I’m left with holes in landscape. My little sanctuary is less private. Next summer all my shade happy plants are going to bake. I miss my little woodland.
Another issue with large tree removal is that it is potentially dangerous. You want to make sure your arborist knows what he or she is doing. I recommend you interview multiple arborists. Make sure the arborist is licensed and carries liability insurance. Check their Cal OSHA record for violations. Ask about how they will remove the tree, what kind of access they will need, how many workers will be there on removal day and whether the owner or employee with the actual license will be there all day. Find out whether the price includes stump grinding, chipping and removing the limbs off site. Do you want some of the wood for fire wood? Ask them if that is included or extra.
I hired Graham Charles of Second Nature Tree Service to remove my pines. I must say he and his crew did a perfect job. He said they would arrive between 8:00 and 8:15 AM. At 8:05 five very polite and organized men marched into my backyard laden with chainsaws, pulleys, a large winch, harnesses and hard hats. The crew got set up quickly. The first chainsaw started buzzing within 10 minutes of their arrival. Some crew members carefully helped me clear out the side yard of furniture, pottery and outdoor bric-a-brac as this was the best path for them to haul out the severed tree limbs. For the next seven hours a meticulous flurry of activity filled the air space. They were very safe and systematic in how they removed and lowered branch and trunk sections to the ground. It was fascinating to watch how they used a system of pulleys high up in the trees and a large powerful winch low on one trunk to accurately lower the limbs exactly where they wanted. One guy was up in the tree with the chainsaw. He was so efficient you’d think that he was born with that chainsaw in his hand. Three other attentive and efficient crew members assisted with the process. They cut up, hauled and chipped the debris. Graham diligently guided and directed the entire operation. After the trees were gone they cleaned up quickly and put everything back in place. I looked around after they left. My backyard was immaculate. If it weren’t for the fact that my two pines were gone you never would have known they had been there.
On a final note, check with your local municipality to see if you need a tree permit for your tree removal. Some species are protected and require formal justification for removal.