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04 Apr 2017
Problems with DIY Tree Care

3 of the Biggest Mistakes People Make When Trying DIY Tree Care

Are Your Tree Care and Maintenance Practices Doing More Harm Than Good?


The time has come once again for homeowners to do some maintenance work on their lawns, gardens, and most importantly, their trees.

The previous winter season has undoubtedly delivered quite a beating to your trees and shrubberies, especially if you live in an area prone to heavy snow and strong cold winds. Most homeowners are in DIY tree care mode by now, eagerly inspecting the damage sustained by the trees and trying to figure out the best solution to rehabilitate them and restore their lushness and beauty.


But how much do you really know about tree care and maintenance?


If you’re on this page, reading this post, then it’s safe to assume that your knowledge about the subject is fairly limited and you want to learn more about it, right?

Practicing do-it-yourself tree care and maintenance is never a bad idea. In fact, it is highly recommended by many experts. It’s good to spend some time taking care of your trees. Unfortunately, a lot of people are employing the wrong tree care practices.

Instead of providing the tree with the proper care it deserves so that it can recover from its injuries and restore its health, they’re actually doing more harm to it by using the wrong tree care techniques and methods. And this doesn’t just apply to homeowners; a number of tree professionals also make a few mistakes when it comes to tree care and maintenance.

That’s right.

It’s not just homeowners and amateur tree care enthusiasts that often make mistakes when caring for their trees; even tree pros sometimes commit the same mistakes as well. So what are these tree care mistakes that you should avoid? Keep on reading.


Common DIY Tree Care Mistakes to Avoid

1. Pruning and trimming at the wrong time of year.

You may not be aware of this, but there’s actually an appropriate time to prune your trees. Some people think that it’s okay to trim or prune a tree any time, since they can pretty much grow back the cut branches.

Wrong, in most cases. You can always remove dead, broken and diseased limbs. In fact it will keep your tree more healthy.  Trees can use excess energy in repair rather than new growth, removing these issues will send that energy to more useful areas.

For most of the year, trees constantly grow and develop except during the winter months. During winter, trees go through a dormant stage where they lose the majority of their foliage. It is during this time that pruning is often performed, especially on mature trees.

When a tree is dormant, it is not actively growing. And since most of its leaves are gone, it’s easier to see all the branches and figure out which ones to cut. When done the right way, pruning can be healthy for trees. It also helps ensure strong growth of new branches and foliage as soon as spring arrives.


2. Using a pruning technique known as “topping”.

Topping is a form of pruning that removes the entire top of a tree, hence the term. It is highly discouraged by Certified Arborists and reputable tree professionals, and even outlawed in some states.

Topping may result in the subsequent death of a tree. Since it not only disfigures the plant, it also leaves it susceptible to infestation and decay. This poor pruning method may cause irreversible damage and premature death to your tree, so please don’t do it.

And if you see a neighbor or a friend topping his/her tree, politely stop them and explain why it’s not a good idea to denude a tree completely of its foliage.


3. Stub cuts and flush cuts (improper pruning method).

Tree branches have collars, in case you’re not aware of it. This collar is located on the base of a branch where it meets the trunk or the lead branch of a tree. Now, when it comes to pruning, there is a correct method and a wrong one.

When you’re pruning, you need to cut all the way to the branch collar. Not doing so is what is known as a stub cut. Stub cuts won’t heal properly and will leave the wound susceptible to decay and infestation.

The opposite of a stub cut is known as a flush cut. This is when you cut a branch or a limb too far beyond the collar. This method is even worse than a stub cut, because it leaves the tree essentially unable to heal and protect its wound.


More info: photo by Anders Jildén

01 Apr 2017
Stump Removal Methods

4 Tree Stump Removal Methods (Plus 1 Foolish One)

Comparing Stump Removal Techniques – Examining Safety and Efficiency of the Most Common Methods


Okay, removing a tree stump isn’t exactly a simple task. To get right down to the point, the absolute worst thing you can do when trying to remove a tree stump is to do it on your own without the right tools or the expertise on how to go about the job in a safe and efficient manner.


So after all that, do you still want to learn more about the different tree stump removal methods, or are you going the amateur route and try to do it with guns blazing?

If you want to approach the stump removal process the right way, below are a few things you need to know.

You see, there are a number of ways to remove a tree stump, with varying difficulties and cost. Each method has its own positives and negatives you have to consider if you’re going to decide which stump removal technique to go with. So, let’s get to the nitty-gritty, shall we?


Stump Removal through Chemical Process

There are chemical products that can speed up the rotting process of a dead tree stump so that it can be easily removed. These products are available at any local hardware store that sells gardening materials.

A standard stump remover usually contains potassium nitrate to help accelerate the decomposition process. Others use chemical fertilizers rich in nitrogen to promote bacterial growth, which then facilitates the gradual decay of the stump.


  • Easy to apply. All you need to do is drill deep holes in the stump, place the chemicals in the holes, and leave it to rot.
  • It’s an inexpensive stump removal method. Most stump removers cost less than $20.


  • This method is potentially dangerous, especially when there are children and pets around. You’re using strong chemicals here.
  • The chemical process takes a long time to complete. It can take weeks up to a month, maybe even more.


Stump Removal through Mechanical Process

Stump grinders are the most popular mechanical tool designed to remove tree stumps. These machines have sharp rotating teeth that can easily grind through dead tree stumps like butter.


  • You can go through the stump removal process rather quickly using the equipment.
  • It doesn’t require a high skill level to operate properly.



  • Rental units are relatively smaller, and less powerful, compared to commercial versions. So it may take more time and effort than you expect to complete the task.
  • Rental versions are mainly designed to remove one or two tree stumps that are less than 10 inches in diameter. Anything more than that and you’re in trouble.


Stump Removal through Manual Process

If you feel like working up a sweat, then manually digging out the stump will surely give you a great workout. All you need is a shovel for digging, some type of saw for cutting up the roots, a pickaxe for wrenching and softening the soil, and protective gear.


  • This is a cost-effective method for removing a tree stump.
  • It can give you a tough cardiovascular workout.


  • It’s a physical and potentially dangerous job. You can easily injure yourself if you’re not careful.
  • This process is only effective if you’re dealing with a relatively small tree stump. Trees that have huge roots that go really deep into the ground will not be easy to remove manually.


Stump Removal through Natural Process

Here’s a nice alternative for removing tree stumps: just let it decompose naturally. If you find that the stump doesn’t really bother you that much, just leave it in the ground to rot. Covering it with fertilizer, soil, or even mulch should help speed up the decay as fungus and bacteria start to flourish. In several months, the stump can easily be removed with minimal effort.

Using fire to remove tree stumps is a popular method, but it’s not advisable. It’s potentially dangerous and the fire could easily get out of control. And using your pickup truck to pull the stump out is really an amateur move. It’s still best to contact a professional to help with the removal process.

Hey, if you can afford to hire a professional to have a tree removed from your property, certainly a few extra bucks to remove the stump shouldn’t be a problem, right?


More info: photo by Oisin Conolly

10 Mar 2017
When (and What) to Do It Yourself, and When to Hire a Tree Pro

When (and What) to Do It Yourself, and When to Hire a Tree Pro

An Easy DIY Tree Care Guide and Tips on How to Hire a Tree Professional


Every homeowner who has a few trees in their property should take the time to learn about the basics of DIY tree care and maintenance. Despite what you might think, trees need some tender loving care as well, especially during the harshest of seasons.


So why is this important?

Whether you planted the tree yourself or was already there when you bought your property, trees add beauty to the landscape and value to your property. They’re an investment worth looking after. With that said, proper tree care and maintenance is necessary to maintain the health, aesthetics, and the lushness of the trees in your property.


What can regular homeowners do to help care for the trees in their property?

You see, there are many different ways to care for a tree. There are certain tasks you can do that don’t require any sort of expertise or help from a tree professional. As simple as some of these tasks can be, they do a lot for the health and well-being of your trees.


Do-It-Yourself Tree Care Tips for the Average Homeowner


DIY Tip #1: The Basic Task of Weeding

The most basic task any homeowner can do when it comes to tree care is actually one that doesn’t require any expertise or skill: pulling weeds. Yes, you read it right. Pulling weeds can be a tedious task, to be honest. But, it’s a task that offers great benefits to young or newly planted trees.


If you can’t do any physical labor:

Here’s a solution for you; ask the kids to do it instead. They want some money so they could go to the mall? Well, here’s a chore they can do to earn some cash. It’s a win-win situation, right?

Periodically pulling weeds around the base of a tree is beneficial because weeds can impede the growth and development of a young tree. They take away most of the moisture and the nutrients the tree needs for nourishment. So as simple as this task may be, it is still quite important; a task that you can definitely do yourself without any professional help.


DIY Tip #2: The Art of Tree Pruning

There are different types of pruning, and not all of them are recommended as a DIY project. Certain pruning jobs require the help of a Certified Arborist or a tree professional. However, there are a few pruning tasks that you can do on your own, such as cutting away low hanging branches, removing small diseased limbs. And when I say small, I mean branches and limbs that you can easily reach and carry in one hand. Anything larger or higher can be dangerous without any professional help.


Here’s a bonus tip for you:

If you’re thinking about using a chainsaw to prune your tree, you better make sure that you know how to handle that beast. The last thing you want is an accident. And one more thing; never use a chainsaw while you’re on a ladder, you’re just flirting with danger. For bigger and more difficult pruning tasks, it is best to call the professionals.


DIY Tip #3: The Science of Mulching

Placing mulch on the soil around the tree is extremely beneficial for trees, especially when they’re about to face the difficult challenges of winter. If you live in an area that experiences extreme fluctuations in temperature during the winter months, it would be prudent to prepare your trees before the winter season hits.


So what’s the right way to apply mulch?

The rule of thumb is to place mulch at least six inches away from the trunk of the tree to avoid damaging the base of the tree. A thickness of two inches is enough to blanket the soil underneath and protect the shallow roots against extremely low temperatures.

You may contact your local Arborist for additional information about the proper application of mulch and for additional tips on how to prepare your tree for the winter.


When is the best time to hire a tree pro?

Basically, if the job becomes too difficult, or if the tree requires extensive care and maintenance, you should consider hiring a Certified Arborist or a professional tree service. Tree removal, seasonal tree care, and heavy pruning jobs are best left to the pros as well.


More info: photo by Roman Averin


12 Jan 2017

Uh Oh. Are Homeowners Liable for Tree Care Accidents?

Know Your Responsibilities and Liabilities: Why DIY Tree Care is Always a Dangerous Proposition

Homeowners are responsible for whatever happens inside their property. And with that being said, they are potentially liable for whatever mishaps or accidents that occur within the property grounds. If you have trees inside your property, and you don’t take care of them regularly, if a branch breaks and land on someone, hurting them in the process, you will be held liable for the injuries that person may have sustained.

In addition, if you have professionals working on your property and they get hurt while pruning one of your trees, you may even be held liable for whatever tree care accidents that occur, especially if the company’s credentials and paperwork are not in order.

So what does this mean?

To avoid getting sued or get slapped with a fine, you need to pay closer attention to the trees that grow within your property. To make sure that the trees are in good condition, you may want to consider doing regular tree care maintenance. And for that, you’re going to have to hire a professional tree care service.


Not All Tree Service Companies Are Equal

Before you decide to hire any particular tree care professional or company, you need to do some research to make sure that they meet the following standards:

  • Insurance – Tree care companies must have liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance if they’re going to work in their client’s property. Otherwise, you the homeowner, will be legally liable for any accidents that take place in your property while they are in your employ.
  • Good Reputation – When you do your research, you should also make sure that the company you want to hire has a good reputation within the industry. Try to verify any professional affiliations they might have. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau for more information about the company.
  • Local References – You should always ask for references before you decide to hire the company. This will allow you to check the quality of their work and whether or not previous clients were satisfied or disappointed with their service.
  • Knowledge and Expertise – Check to see if the company has up-to-date knowledge and expertise regarding proper tree care and safety protocols. This is very important as it ensures safety and limits the occurrence of workplace accidents.
  • Contracts – Make sure to carefully check the contract so will know what your responsibilities are as the homeowner and what your liabilities might be. Never hire a company without a written contract.


Why Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Tree Maintenance Is Not a Good Idea

If you’re worried about homeowner liability when it comes to tree maintenance, then you should probably think twice about DIY tree care, especially if you have no experience whatsoever in this kind of work.

That’s not all . . .

Sure, pruning tree branches and cutting off rotten tree limbs sounds simple enough. In reality, it actually isn’t. In fact, working with trees, specifically the bigger ones, is extremely complicated and dangerous without the appropriate knowledge or expertise.

Accidents and injuries can occur, improper handling of cut tree limbs to faulty pruning equipment. And if a neighbor happens to walk by as you were sawing off a large branch, and it hits the person on the head, you would be in serious trouble.

Accident factors that are commonly associated with DIY tree care work:

  1. The use of extension ladders.

If you’re doing your own tree maintenance work, at some point you’re going to need an extension ladder in order to reach the upper portions of the tree. You might want to think carefully about how you’re going to use the extension ladder. A lot of DIY tree care accidents have occurred because of the improper use of extension ladders.

  1. Sharp, heavy, or faulty equipment.

Chainsaws, pruning shears, hand axe—these are tools that require some form of mastery before they can be operated safely. And even then, accidents may still happen, especially if the equipment is faulty. Professionals have years of training trying to operate such equipment. And because they’ve mastered the use of the equipment, they make it look easy. Assuming that operating a chainsaw is easy would be your first mistake.

  1. Inadequate knowledge about the physics and biology of trees.

Simply sawing or hacking away branches and limbs with your chainsaw and axe is really foolhardy and dangerous. Proper calculations, sufficient knowledge about tree biology, and common sense are important when it comes to tree care safety and avoiding unnecessary accidents.


What are your thoughts? Comment below!


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