Removing a tree

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Trees can add value to your property, but they can also become a liability when they're diseased, stressed or just unruly.

The research team at Angie's List asked arborists and highly rated tree experts about how to tell when it's time to remove a tree.

Several factors, such as old age, storm damage or environmental issues, can prematurely damage or kill trees. If you're concerned about your trees, or have never had them inspected, your best bet is to hire a Certified Arborist.

While only a certified arborist can tell for sure if your tree is dying, here signs to help you determine if it's time to call a specialist.

  • Leaves bloom late
  • Leaves fall off early
  • Odd leaf color
  • Split, cracked or peeling bark
  • Dead branches near the top of the tree

Angie's List Tips: Hiring a tree service

  • Don't procrastinate: If you have trees that look structurally unsound or in decline, don't wait to have them looked at. Taking care of the issue immediately can also save you from further costs. Your trees should be inspected on a regular basis.
  • Consider a certified arborist: If you have trees that are aged or diseased, a certified Arborist can help determine what special care you might need to keep the trees and your yard in good shape. Cutting down a tree is a dangerous job and a task homeowners should not attempt themselves.
  • Check qualifications: Don't hire just anyone with a chain saw and pickup truck. Tree removal is highly technical and dangerous and should only be done by an experienced professional. Gather estimates from at least three companies and vet them thoroughly. Check for membership in professional organizations, such as the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), or the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA).
  • Ask for proof of insurance and licensing: Make sure the company's policy adequately covers property damage and injuries that could occur.
  • The cost to remove: The cost depends on several factors, including the type of tree and its height. Many companies charge per foot. Additional costs include on-site chipping, stump grinding and removal of the debris. Many professional tree services offer free, on-site estimates.
  • Walk through the job: Have the contractor walk through the yard with you so you know exactly what trees need work and what is being removed. Map out how the areas where the contractors will be working and how they will access those areas. Make sure you've cleared those areas of cars and other items to ensure nothing is damaged by falling limbs.
  • Put it in writing: Agree to the terms and details of the project, including the costs, outlined in a contract, before any work is done.