DIY Tree Trimming Fails and What Denver Homeowners Need to Know

Is your new stay-at-home lifestyle compelling you to work on home improvement projects? Before you launch into a DIY tree trimming endeavor, learn the risks involved and how to stay safe. 

What Makes DIY Tree Trimming Dangerous?

Tree trimming is recognized by the U.S. Census Bureau as one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. Each year, trained and certified professionals suffer serious injuries and even fatalities as a result of a tree trimming accidents. This shows that even the most qualified individuals are at risk. But what exactly makes tree trimming so dangerous?

To the untrained eye, tree trimming may seem like a simple enough task. Identify which branches you want to trim or remove, and then cut away those branches. What’s so complicated about that? This type of thinking is exactly what gets homeowners in trouble and in over their heads. 

There are four key factors that, in combination with each other, are a recipe for danger:

Elevated Heights

Tree trimming often involves working at elevated heights. It might not look so bad from the ground, but most people aren’t used to working from 20-30 feet off of the ground. Just being up that high can cause an adrenaline rush, panic, or paralysis that inhibits rational thinking, and reduces motor skills. Effective tree trimming requires focus and precision all at elevated heights. 

Sharp Tools

To get the job done, sharp tools (usually power tools) are needed. Again, if you work a 9-5 desk job, operating heavy duty sharp machinery like a chainsaw may not be in your wheelhouse. Even if you consider yourself somewhat of a handyman and are comfortable with sharp tools, tree trimming is not your average woodworking project. Serious coordination and skill are needed to apply the tools correctly to the situation. Sharp tools are inherently dangerous, but try using them at elevated heights and you just doubled your chances of an accident.

Electrical Wires

Often the most overlooked, electrical wires are the most dangerous tree trimming variable that homeowners almost never account for. Professional tree trimming companies typically have a team member specifically trained to inspect the site for electrical hazards and clear them before the project can begin. You’d be surprised by the radius that is taken into account for a tree trimming project. A major mistake made by DIY tree trimmers is underestimating the area that may be affected by their trimming. Power lines may appear to be at a safe distance, but a branch could fall unexpectedly and cause an accident! 

Unknown Tree Variables

The final factor in the danger equation is the tree itself. Sometimes tree branches are clearly visibly dead. A homeowner may easily identify that deadwood and seek to remove it, but oftentimes, trees are much more complicated. Many tree trimming accidents occur due to falling branches that were never part of the intended project. They didn’t appear injured or dead on the outside but were diseased and dead on the inside. One cut can lead to a reaction within the tree that a DIYer can’t anticipate. 

Trained tree care professionals and arborists conduct thorough evaluations of an entire tree before trimming to anticipate any potential issues. Even with these precautions, unexpected events still occur.

DIY Tree Trimming Fails

Worst case scenario, DIY tree trimming can cause a serious injury or fatality. Best case? You get the job done with no major catastrophes. But do you get it done right?  Nine times out of ten, DIY tree trimming ends in an epic fail:

  • Damaged Property: You manage to climb the ladder, trim and remove the tree branches, all without hurting yourself or anyone else. But a big branch falls on your- fill in the blank – roof? garage? shed? Now you have just added another major improvement project to your list.
  • Tree Hack Job: Maybe you have what you need to trim your own tree, after all, you own a chainsaw and a ladder. You watched a youtube tutorial. But should you trim it? Think of it this way, would you cut your own hair? You have scissors and a comb. The answer, of course, is no, you wouldn’t. It would look terrible! And odds are if you trim your own tree it won’t just look a little uneven. Most DIY tree trimming ends up looking like a complete hack job and is an epic fail. Don’t make your tree the eyesore of the neighborhood!
  • Time & Money Wasted: Many homeowners choose to DIY in an attempt to save money. If you’re planning on starting from scratch and buying the tools you’ll need, researching the proper techniques, and putting in the man-hours yourself, you are definitely not going to save money. Professional tree trimming crews typically use 14″  Stihl chainsaws with safety guards. This tool alone costs about $800! Add to that a proper ladder, personal safety equipment, and we’re talking about well over $1,000. Save yourself time and money by getting a quick quote or estimate from a professional!

Can DIY Tree Trimming Hurt The Health Of My Tree?

There is a good deal of tree science and technique that goes into properly trimming a tree. All cuts made during trimming and pruning will affect the overall long-term health of the tree. Here are just a few fast facts about the connection between poor tree trimming and tree health:

  • Trees that haven’t been properly pruned are often weakened and therefore hazardous.
  • Trees require consistent, expert pruning for proper health.
  • Topping, a common practice of trimming off a significant portion of a tree’s crown, is thought to increase blooming but can actually stunt growth and harm the trees health.
  • A tree that has been topped or incorrectly pruned is more likely to develop disease and rot.

Why Hire Professionals For Tree Trimming?

What are the advantages of hiring a professional team for tree trimming rather than DIYing? There are numerous, but we’ll cover the top four:

License & Insurance

Tree service companies hold licensure and insurance for their practice. Professional licensure requires that the practitioner complete a two part test and have a number of experience hours. 

Denver recognizes licensure for two classifications of tree services:

  • General License: enables its holder to perform services to any sized tree. Issued to an individual working for a business engaged in tree and/or shrub trimming and/or removal that will require workers to leave the ground through climbing or use of an aerial lift. Work may be done on any size tree, shrub, or evergreen.
  • Ornamental License: allows its holder to perform services to small vegetation only. Issued to an individual working for a business engaged in tree and/or shrub trimming and/or removal that do not require workers to leave the ground through climbing or use of an aerial lift.

Insurance is another big advantage to hiring a professional to complete your job. There are many risks associated with tree trimming and tree trimming professionals are required to carry insurance to cover even the biggest accident or damage.

Training & Safety

Professional tree trimmers are trained in and required to follow industry safety practices. Here’s what comes standard with major professional  tree service projects: 

  • The company enforces a complete health and safety program with clear written safety rules and safe work procedures for all tasks performed.
  • The company makes sure that only qualified tree workers direct tree trimming/removal/repair operations, and immediately correct any hazards or improper work practices identified. 
  • The company uses fall prevention equipment and practices with fidelity.
  • The company routinely inspects safety equipment before each use and is prepared to immediately withdraw from service if found defective or damaged.
  • Service providers wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as hard hats, face shields, safety glasses, shoes, gloves, high-visibility clothing, and hearing protection.
  • Service providers conduct an initial job site inspection and perform daily hazard assessments before the start of each workday to identify all existing hazards and other potentially dangerous conditions. 

Fielding Tree and Shrub Care has a reputation for putting safety first. The integrity of our work is built on training, routines, and best practices that keep our work sites safe. We’ll respect your property as if it were our own!

Safety Protocols For DIY Tree Trimming

If you insist on doing your tree trimming yourself, here are three protocols you need to follow with fidelity for your safety and success:

1) Methods To Properly Fell A Tree 

  • Check your surroundings for hazards such as powerlines
  • Imagine possible fall scenarios
  • Decide which way to fell the tree, make a directional notch cut in the tree
  • Clear away all undergrowth so you can get out of the way quickly
  • Cut away limbs from lower part of the trunk
  • Cut from the top and use a downward stroke
  • Work at an angle that puts the tree trunk between yourself and the chainsaw
  • Never cut tree limbs at a level higher than your shoulders
  • Use a felling wedge as a lever to make the tree begin to fall
  • Watch and retreat keeping your eyes on the falling tree as you move away 

2) Proper Pruning Techniques 

  • Remove all dead, dying, and diseased limbs
  • Raise the canopy to increase pedestrian, vehicular or visual zone
  • Remove old wood to encourage the formation of new wood
  • Always make cuts close to a node
  • Prune to the lateral bud that will produce the branch you want

3) Wear Your PPE

  • Non-conductive hard hats
  • Eye protection
  • Hearing protection
  • Gloves
  • Long sleeves
  • Safety footwear with slip-resistant soles

Why DIY when you can get expert tree trimming services for a great affordable price? Contact us to get your free estimate today!