Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cutting Down Trees

A few years ago, we had 2 large trees cut down at our home.  When the men left, no one spoke with me about the work they'd done.  I remember having no idea if anyone was coming back to grind the stump or not.  An hour later, a man arrived.  He ground the stump and then drove away.  He also left me with a big mess of sawdust to dispose of.  The men who cut the tree in the back did the same.  I spent the rest of the afternoon working on the yard.  (If anyone's curious, it was Harford Tree Removal--which I wouldn't recommend.)  The interesting part of the experience for me was that I had gotten two estimates and gone with the higher one.  I thought the company would do a better job.  I learned a lot from that experience.  And yes, if you're wondering if my husband and I made the decision together--we did!  But, I happened to meet with the men who came out to estimate the job and so I presented to my husband the estimates from both and we discussed them.

At our new house, we needed to have two very large trees removed (and stumps/surface roots ground).  I remembered a discussion among some members of the homeschooling email network I'm a part of about tree trimmers.  I had logged one of the gal's names in my mind in case I ever needed it.  When I realized we needed to get these two trees taken down, she was the first person I emailed.  She recommended a company called Clear Tree.  She told me they weren't the cheapest, but they'd do a good job.  That was what I wanted.  I called them for an estimate and someone came over.  The estimator wrote out exactly what they would do.  I clarified several things with them--1) if anything happened to the water line, they would be responsible. 2) they would clean everything up and not leave me a mess! 3) I asked him to itemize what we were asking to be done, so my husband could have the option of what he wanted to have done and what he didn't.

The men arrived this morning around 11 am and are still working away as we approach 4 p.m. (They didn't finish until 6 p.m.) Two trees are down in the back and the one in the front is also down.  They're grinding the stump of the one in front as I type away.  My husband cut down two trees last night and they took care of mulching all that he'd cut down from them.  They also cut down the rest of the tree trunk that he hadn't gotten to last night (what a blessing!).  I've watched as they've raked up the debris throughout the process.  I've had the doorbell ring 3 or 4 times each time they've had a question about where to put the wood.  The man who heads up the team talked with me about each tree and the yard before the team got started.  It's actually a blessing to be bothered sometimes!

I was very apprehensive about this endeavor before it got started.  Trimming trees and having them removed is a surprisingly expensive home repair project!  It's not unusual for several large trees to cost a few thousand dollars to remove.  Of course there's extenuating factors--being over power and utility lines, being near water lines, the difficulty of getting to the trees, etc.  Those factors all can make a tree cost more or less to get trimmed or removed.  There's also two ways of trimming trees.  You can have them topped off or thinned out.  Thinning out does less damage to the tree, but  topping off is the cheaper way of getting the job done.

In our case, it was important to get the trees removed.  One was blocking the drainage of water away from our house.  It also happened to be dying and has lost a lot of large limbs in recent years.  The second tree was a silver maple, which are notorious for burrowing holes through pipes (especially water lines).  Both the tree cutters and the water meter man have told me this.  The water meter man warned me of this four weeks ago when I interrogated him about the water meter on his most recent visit.  The meter man had encouraged me to put some root kill down the drain to go through the sewer pipes to clear out any roots that have started to grow.

As with all projects on this house, this project has pointed to another.  It turns out that the drainage pipes for the gutters had roots in them and were completely clogged.  This actually could explain a lot about why our sump pumps have been running so often.  I am relieved this project is done.  I miss the trees (I do love trees!).  But, I'm thankful to have a flat front yard that my kids won't trip over and that we can now use.  Our small backyard feels bigger and I look forward to working on it in the spring.

So that was our adventure yesterday!  As one last note, I think the biggest difference I now see in cutting trees is the aftermath of what happens once the tree is cut.  If you have to have a tree cut down, it isn't so bad to just get the tree cut down.  It's adding clean up, grinding roots up, and grinding up the stump (and whether they smooth the dirt down afterwards) that makes it a much more expensive project.

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