by Marcus Pickett
Though considerably heartier than grass, flowers, or shrubs, trees are frequently taken for granted by homeowners. They've been there for 25 years without any help, so why should this year be any different? But trees are more susceptible to changing weather conditions, migrating insects, and the spontaneous spread of disease than most people realize. Properly trimmed and maintained trees are much more likely to endure these hardships. And the same homeowners who underestimate the importance of tree service and maintenance also underestimate how much trees can add (or subtract) from their property value.
Many misconceptions surround tree trimming service. Ladders and chainsaws are big no-no's. Proper tree trimming involves harnesses and securing the body to two separate places on the tree itself. Safety precautions include hardhats, eyewear, and safe handling of cutting tools. Very few homeowners have the prerequisite knowledge and experience to trim their own trees. Many homeowners are also surprised by how bare freshly-trimmed trees look. Don't worry, the pros know what they're doing, and you'd be surprised by how fast trees bounce back.
If tree trimming is rarely a DIY project, tree removal is virtually impossible and often illegal. Even tree service professionals with decades of experience can be mystified by the behavior of falling trees. Needless to say, chainsaws and quick feet or a strong rig and a powerful truck aren't viable DIY methods for tree removal. Most local governments require that you secure a permit to remove a tree from your property and a licensed professional to do the job.
Dead limbs, tree leaning, the presence of mushrooms or fungus, discolored or decaying bark, and unusual root patterns are all possible symptoms of an ailing tree. New growth near the trunk can even be a symptom that your tree isn't getting enough nutrients from leaves. If you notice anything unusual about your tree, you should call a tree arborist immediately. A problem like soil compaction, often a result of recent construction, can be remedied fairly easily as long as it's noticed early and addressed promptly. Of course some diseases aren't so forgiving, but even a terminal tree needs a plan for eventual removal.
These cost averages are provided by ServiceMagic from homeowners who actually completed tree service projects, but several factors can have a dramatic effect on these averages. A handful of large trees that haven't been trimmed in 20 years might cost more than $1,000, while a couple of small trees that are trimmed every few years might cost less than $500. Different markets and locations also affect cost more than most people imagine. Similar factors are at play when determining the cost of tree removal. If you're suffering from sticker shock, here are some strategies to manage the cost of your tree service.
Shrubs are more delicate than trees, but hold nearly as much promise. Not only do shrubs offer dynamic visual appeal for residential landscapes, they can also increase your home's energy efficiency by providing shade and cool air for siding and home exteriors. They can slow soil erosion and create pleasant smells for your yard. Professional shrub service can help you decide which shrubs to plant for your home and location. Everything from irrigation to horizontal versus vertical growth patterns is critical for proper shrub planning. Professional services can also trim your hedges or diagnose problems for ailing shrubs.
-- Marcus Pickett is a senior home improvement writer with ServiceMagic.com. He has written more than 1200 articles on managing your home and home improvement trends.