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Blowing Money on Trees


Our new house was built in 1991, and the trees and bushes weren’t cared for much. Things grow like crazy here in the Northwest, so they’re super overgrown and some need to be removed. So we’re blowing a ton of money this month on expensive tree removal.

Saving a Bit on Shrubs That Think They’re Trees

We have two arborvitae on the side of the house, just a few feet from the foundation. Normally people use them as shrubs, and keep them around 8 feet tall. Well these two beasts are—no joke—35 feet tall. They honestly crack me up.

We got bids to cut them down thinking our HOA would require us to use a professional, and the cheapest was $200. But since they’re technically shrubs (the biggest shrubs in all the land!), the HOA said we can “trim” them ourselves.

We’re happy we can save on the labor, but we don’t have adequate tools ourselves. We don’t own a chainsaw, but we do own a small hand saw that is pretty much used for cutting down our Christmas tree. I somehow, someway talked my husband into using this handsaw to start cutting down the arborvitae. He kept muttering under his breath, but we persevered.

Check out our progress:

Expensive Tree Removal

My husband grew up in a logging community—his dad worked at the mill—so he taught me the safe way to cut down trees. We cut down as many of the smaller branches and sections that we could. Our arms may never be the same. It was hard work, but we fell the first one and all the small-ish ones on the second. But the rest are beefy and we really need a chain saw.

He is campaigning hard for buying a chain saw. We can use it on the arborvitae and to cut up fallen trees, and then to help us maintain the rest of the trees in the yard. But I just want to rent one from Home Depot or Lowe’s every now and then and call it good. It costs $32 to rent for four hours, and then we wouldn’t have to store it. But he likes one he saw for $250 (plus a $50 battery). Considering we are saving $200 by not using a professional, I might be persuaded.

More Expensive Tree Troubles

Speaking of trees, remember that tree I mentioned that dropped a big branch on our neighbor’s roof deck? Turns out it’s a Black Cottonwood that grows fast and can be very brittle. It scared the bejeezus out of our neighbors that day. And since it’s on a slope above our house, it scares me too. It’s too close to the house, especially where our kids sleep.

We had to spend $50 just to apply to our HOA to have it removed, and they’re still reviewing it. (Oh HOAs…) They try to keep native trees around, but we really hope they’ll take our safety into account.

Our bids for this tree HURT. Such expensive tree removal. One was for $2,400 plus $300 for grinding. A friend’s tree service will do it for $1,000. We’ll still need to grind the stump and figure out how to get rid of it ourselves, but the math is a no-brainer.


So this is how we’re blowing money on trees lately. If only money truly grew on them! This is the part of home ownership that is neither glamorous nor inexpensive.




  • Reply Katie |

    Does your area have a tool library? Our community has one and it’s a great way to have access to some of the equipment you rarely need, like chainsaws.

  • Reply Drmaddog |

    I have had to do the same. It’s amazing how expensive removing stuff like this can be. I had a very tall tree in my backyard that was losing a branch every now and then. It was tall enough that if it fell it could cause some damage to my ex neighbor’s or my house. I had it cut down and lo and behold, the center was rotted out because it had fungus. Worth the removal for sure.

  • Reply Janie B. |

    We have a friend who gets his tools from–pawn shops!

    You might look for a chain saw at such a place.

  • Reply Lisa |

    Those “shrubs” are huge! I would also vote rent the chainsaw, but I also have a hard time convincing my husband of that lol

    • Reply Sara S |

      Aren’t they hilarious? And there’s something about a guy needing to own his own chainsaw… sigh…

  • Reply Timothy Wilson |

    Thanks for sharing these tips. I appreciate your share. My wife and I consider to buy a house in RI area with some tall trees in the backyard and we would look for tree care and removal services soon. We aren’t sure if it is a big enough of a deal to do but we shall blow money on trees lately after saving a good amount. Thanks.

  • Reply Louis Nash |

    I will do what you did to improve the appearance of the tree that is more noticeable to people who can appreciate it. Thanks for making this blog that can be the beginning of articles that are meaningful to read.

So, what do you think ?