Perhaps a tree has branches that are encroaching on a power line or on your neighbor’s property. Or maybe the tree has already been cut down and you want that unsightly stump removed. In any case, your yard needs work. Before you jump in, here are some questions worth asking.

Whose responsibility is it?

First consult your state laws or your city codes. In many cases, you will be responsible for handling any tree issues on your property. However, some municipalities and energy companies handle tree trimming when power line proximity is an issue.

Will you do it yourself?

If you discover that you’re responsible for trimming a tree or removing a tree stump, then it’s time to decide if you will handle the job yourself or hire a professional. This decision should be based on the size of the job, your own expertise and the tools you own. You should also consider any dangers, such as any power lines in close proximity to the tree or the potential to strike an underground line when grinding the stump.

If you lack the experience or the tools to handle these tasks, then it’s time to hire a professional.

How do you make the right hire?

If you determine that hiring a professional tree-trimming or stump-removal service is your best bet, follow these steps:

  • Check with your neighbors. See if any neighbors hired a professional to trim their trees or remove a tree stump. Your contacts are often the best way to go about hiring a contractor.
  • Do your own research. Once you’ve compiled a list based on recommendations or your own research, check out some online reviews. The Better Business Bureau is a helpful resource to help you get the lowdown on different contractors.
  • Check the intangibles. When you research your tree-trimming options, look for trimmers that provide written contracts, the proper equipment, debris removal, damage insurance and fair pricing.

Next, learn about which trees are the best to plant when it comes to growth rates, shade, size and more.