As we walk out into our yards and gaze out into the lush scenery the spring has offered, we may notice that some order is needed for the shrubs and trees that may have offered too much or too little this year. The last of the sleepy tree species have leafed out by now, and that lingering question of what is alive or dead no longer persists. Now you have to come up with a plan and you ask yourself ‘am I gonna do this?’ Here are a couple things to consider to help you decide what to do.
- Can you do the work? – You don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to do shrub and small tree work, but it depends on the limited tools you have available, the time you have, and probably most importantly your experience level to the task at hand. You might be able to save a few dollars by dropping that tree into your lawn, but what’s the plan now? A tree is a ton of material that has to go somewhere, and your grass could be dead in a matter of a couple days if nothing is done. The city will only pick up so much material, and even if you own a trailer, they tend to fill up faster than expected.
- Come up with a plan – make a decision for what you can feasibly get done, and whether or not you need a professional. If you’ve got a few low limbs that need trimming, some dead shrubs, and some pesky vines growing up your favorite tree, this kind of work can be done with limited tools and ability. If there’s a small tree under 25 feet tall, and you or buddy know how to run a chainsaw, then it might be something you can handle. But once you start to get to those heights, you should pause and re-calibrate: do I know how to cut a wedge and fell a tree? Do I know the 3-cut technique for pruning? Where is this limb/tree gonna land once it’s cut?
- Gather your tools – this may include your ropes, chainsaws, loppers and cutting tools; your clean materials like rakes, tarps, and garbage cans; and most importantly your first aid kit and your PPE. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is an absolute must, regardless of your experience level, and is just one more way to be efficient. If you have to stop a job for a hospital visit, not only did your job get way more expensive than calling a professional, but now you’ve lost a pair of hands to finish the work. Don’t forget to try to start your power equipment to see if it runs, because a few months of neglect can gum up your carburetors. Now it needs a shop visit before you can even start your project. The most important tool is the ladder, and where do we keep it? …in the garage! That’s right, the ladder has no place in tree work. If you doubt that, please watch a few videos on YouTube to get an idea of how poorly it pans out.
- Get some help – find someone with some tools and a trailer to help. Hopefully they have some experience to offer. But if they don’t, they at least should have a cell phone to call for help if something goes wrong. Always work with a buddy when doing dangerous work, because no one that was ever killed or injured planned for it to happen. Working in pairs gives you more attention to the details, as well as another perspective.
Photo by Tiago Torres from Pexels
Time to get the job done – so what’s it gonna be? Do you have the tools, time and experience to get this job done? Don’t wait to do it, as those dead limbs and trees may start to fall on something important or expensive. Company is coming over for a BBQ and you still have a mountain of material in your yard, or that limb looming over the patio is making you anxious. So what do you do? Be safe, be smart, and don’t get out a ladder please!