Tree Removal and Tree Cutting: DIY or Hire a Professional

Part 2 - Tree Removal and Tree Cutting - DIY or Hire a Professional

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Whenever there’s a task at hand, no matter how tedious or easy it may be, one question that always comes to mind is, should you do it yourself or should you hire a professional? Tree removal or tree cutting might seem easy for people who own the right tools. However, it often depends on the level of difficulty.

If a tree is the size of a human being, or at least double your size, the difficulty level is quite low, and most of us would think that it’s something we can do by ourselves. When the tree is the size of your house like palm trees that grow even taller, there might be dangers attached to the job. Before buying or taking out your tools, try to gauge if the task is something you can do yourself.

Can You Handle Tree Removal or Tree Cutting Yourself?

Now, after we discuss a few most common techniques and methods of cutting trees, let’s turn our attention to another question that is most prevalent in people’s minds when they finalliy realize that it is time to do something about their overly grown trees: “Can I handle tree cutting or removal on my own?.” 

Well, the answer will depend on a number of factors, such as the size of the tree (is it small enough to safely chop off a few twigs or will it be a “climb mount Everest” type of adventure), the cost of hiring a professional service (will it cost you a leg and an arm, in the most direct meaning, or will it actually save you money if a professional takes care of the cutting, even if it seems a bit costly at first), the equipment needed to get the job done (do you have everything you need or will you need to buy or rent out a few expensive pieces), skills (are you a geek who never dealt with anything more complicated than a keyboard or a skilled worker who is used to work with his hands), and of course safety (can you identify all the risks associated with cutting a tree down or you have no clue of what to expect).

Can You Handle Tree Removal or Tree Cutting Yourself

Below, let’s review each factor in more detail, so you have a better idea of what it takes to cut or remove a tree.

The Size of the Tree

When it comes to cutting a tree, the size actually matters. The bigger the tree is, the more difficult, lengthy and risky the task of cutting it down will be. Large trees cannot be cut in one simple slice through at the bottom of the trunk, not only because there isn’t a saw or other piece of equipment suitable for the task, but also because large trees can and will fall uncontrollably, causing damage to nearby structures, properties, and anything else that was unfortunate enough to stand in its way. Only small trees, with a trunk no larger than 10 inches in diameter, can be safely felled in its entirety, presuming that all the right precautions are in place. Any tree larger than that, needs to be cut down piece by piece, following specific protocol designed to prevent injuries and damage to the property.


Some of you reading might think that “Do It Yourself” will cost you less than hiring a professional. That might be true if we only look at the dollar amount, considering that you already have all the necessary equipment. However, what if you don’t? Sure, you will definitely be able to rent what you need, but often, the cost of renting such specialized equipment comes up to almost the amount that you would pay to a professional. 

Moreover, even if you will be able to rent out needed equipment for much less, probably, in your cost analysis you did not include the time you spent looking for it, driving to pick it up, and then all the hours it would take for you to cut the tree, subjecting yourself to a potential injury. A broken bone or a deep cut will cost much more not only in terms of money, but also timewise and healthwise. Also, even if you managed to safely cut or remove the tree yourself, what are you going to do with what remains of it? Branches, twigs, trunks, and other parts of the tree must be disposed of somehow and simply dumping them into the trash bin will not suffice, especially if it was a large tree. In this case, you will either need to order a dumpster from the city and pay for trash pick up or find a company that will take care of it for you. In any case, this will not be a free service. 

But wait, there is still more! After the tree is removed, the stump remains deep in the ground, and removing it is an entirely separate matter that will either cost money or many more hours of hard labor. In the end, it might not even be worth the hassle, risk, and headache to deal with all that on your own. Maybe it will be better to spend this time with your family and friends and delegate such a dreadful task to pros, who will take care of it all: from cutting to disposing of, leaving your yard looking like the tree was never even there. 

Equipment Availability

It is always good news when you already have the equipment you need or it is readily available at the store nearby for a decent cost. However, cutting down a large tree may require specialized equipment, such as an arborist crane, for example, that may not be available to purchase or rent in your area. Plus, you may need to go through some training before you will be able to operate such equipment. 

Tree work, pruning operations. Crane and pine wood forest

Other tools that are not as simple to use as they may seem are propane-powered or electric-powered chainsaws. Accidents, using such powerful gear can be life-threatening, especially if you have never handled one and are about to take on a task of cutting a medium or a large-sized tree. Plus they are not cheap and you can easily spend over $200 on a decent chainsaw. Together with the safety gear, such as glasses, gloves, shoes, ear protection, and a hard hat the price of this DIY project will quickly creep up.


Being good with your hands and having a smart head on your shoulders does not necessarily equal guaranteed success when it comes to tree cutting and removal. As mentioned before, trees do tend to fall uncontrollably, when handled by a rookie, and when that tree starts to fall in the wrong direction because you cut too deep on one side or too low on the other, there is nothing you can do to stop it. 

The only thing you will be doing is watching mortified how it slams on top of your or your neighbor’s property. Definitely, this is not a situation anyone is looking forward to finding himself in. But that is only one possible scenario. Injury is another thing that can happen when cutting a tree without skills or experience. Professionals on the other hand are equipped with the right skills and experience to handle unexpected situations and are aided with the most effective tools to get the job done quickly and uneventfully.


Safety is the most important factor to keep in mind when deciding to cut the tree yourself. Even a small injury can significantly interfere with your normal life, hindering your ability to enjoy your normal routine. In many cases, we don’t know how important something is to us until we don’t have it or can’t do it anymore. And when it comes to cutting a tree, there are so many things that can go wrong, that the risk of hurting yourself or anyone else is not worth a few dollars you may save by trying to do this challenging task on your own.

Getting Rid of a Large Tree in Your Yard

Presence of a large tree in your yard can be beneficial in so many ways: it can provide cooling shade on a hot sunny day and shield you from harmful solar radiation, keep you safe from natural disasters such as landslides, give you fruit to eat, or simply, add beauty to your property.

Getting Rid of a Large Tree in Your Yard

Nevertheless, beneficial as it may be, a large tree at some point can become a nuisance. Root systems of large trees are also quite large and can spread across your entire property, becoming very troublesome, especially when they reach underneath your home. The core issue with roots is that they can damage the water system by creating cracks in pipes and breaking apart pipe joints, resulting in leaks, low water pressure, and high water bills. Constantly sipping water can also damage the foundation of your house, leading to cracks in the walls, floors, and roof. If the tree grows too close to the structure, the roots themselves can cause the same type of damage to the foundation as well, by lifting the ground underneath.

Another issue that is not immediately apparent is foliage. Leaves do fall from trees, even in tropical evergreen climates, because leaves, like anything else organic, have an expiration date and the old ones eventually must be replaced by the new ones. Month after month, year after year of leaves accumulating on the roof can cause sagging and leakage, bringing the date when you must replace your roof closer, than you might have been expecting.

A few other smaller reasons, such as the need for yard upkeep on a regular basis due to falling branches and leaves and the presence of insects and wildlife on or around the tree can further add to the displeasure of having one on your premises.

If the tree you currently have on your property is causing you troubles and you are eager to remove it on your own as soon as possible, foremost it would be wise to consider the following factors, before you jump quickly into action:

Age of the Tree

It is not that important to know the exact age of the tree, however determining if the tree is fairly young or if it is close to the end of its lifecycle can help to decide if it should be cut down entirely or simply trimmed. A very old tree with visible signs of rot and disease poses a risk and it might be a good idea to get rid of it completely and for good, as a rotten, hollowed-out trunk can no longer safely support the weight of the tree’s crown and therefore can suddenly snap in the middle, and the entire tree will fall, and hopefully not on top of your house. Moreover, old, diseased, and rotting trees are not the easiest to cut safely, not only for the reasons mentioned above but also because they may harbor rodents and dangerous insects that will run or try to attack the moment you rattle their “cage”.

Cost to Cut the Tree

Cutting a large tree may cost you a few bucks, especially if you hire a professional service, nevertheless choosing not to risk your health and well-being might be a better deal in the long run, since hospital bills generally tend to get much more costly than what arborists will charge you. However, if you’re into DIY no matter what, then make sure you know what to do. Spend some time thoroughly researching safety, techniques, tools that you will need, and how to properly and effectively use them without injuring yourself, and of course, don’t forget to check out tree-cutting fails on YouTube, as those videos will give you insight on the worst case scenarios and what you should expect to happen if things go wrong. Ideally, you should be prepared to deal with the consequences of what might happen, so no costly surprises arise, that you were not prepared for and don’t have the finances to cover.

In conclusion, weigh your options wisely, and think of all possible outcomes and their financial liabilities before opting for a DIY project, especially since health and safety concerns are also at play here.

Professional Versus DIY

Hiring a professional to cut your tree might seem more costly at first, however, when you consider all the equipment that you will need to purchase or rent plus the time you will spend shopping, renting, and performing the work yourself and then cleaning and disposing of debris after, you will quickly come to a conclusion that it is not worth the time, risks and money to deal with because hiring a professional will only cost you his fees without the hassle of everything else around it.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Before settling firmly on removing a tree, ask yourself first whether it is more beneficial than it is disadvantageous, especially if the tree is healthy and does not pose a threat to your property. Think about the benefits you will derive if you’ll retain that tree versus the benefits you’ll get after removing it. It might turn out that the benefits and costs of removing a tree will make it not worth dealing with, or the opposite, you might find that getting rid of it is the best decision to make.

What’s Next?

Have you determined the pros and cons of DIY tree removal and tree cutting? We hope that this article helped you in deciding whether to cut or removed trees yourself or hire a professional.

If you plan to go the DIY route, the next article in the series more about the dangers and how to avoid them, make sure to read through: Part 3: Things You Shouldn’t Do

Other parts of this Tree Removal and Tree Cutting series:

For professional tree care services, don’t hesitate to check out what The Tree Dudes can do for you.

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