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The Tree Removal Process: an Interview with Krista Fox of Martin Tree Services, LLC

By Krista Fox

Tell us about your company and its foundation

We are a first generation business, serving our area for nearly 25 years. Our owner, Jeff Martin, started out working with a local Amish Man in 1989 with just a chainsaw and a pickup truck. Before long, they got a trailer so they could haul brush away, which they would later burn. In 1990, Jeff began to work on his own and he purchased his first chipper. He always challenged himself to be more efficient, which led to purchasing additional pieces of equipment. He also began hiring a few employees to help him out, who still continue to work here today. In 2001, he purchased his first bucket truck, which allowed for removing and trimming larger trees more quickly, yet more safely. In 2003, an office manager was hired full time. The company has now grown to having 12 full time employees, with a fleet consisting of a crane, 3 75' bucket trucks, and 7 trucks to haul wood chips, logs, or trailers. We also have a variety of equipment, including a 100 horsepower stump grinder, chippers that can chip up to 20" diameter limbs, and skid loaders with turf tires to protect your lawn and grapples to pick up logs. Quality is very important to us and our employees take pride in working efficiently, professionally, and courteously at each job.

What are some important questions to ask before you start the tree removal process?

We appreciate clarity as to what you would like done. Marking your trees is very helpful for us. We are happy to provide recommendations, but it is helpful for us to have a clear understanding of the scope of work you have in mind before we come give an estimate. Decide if you want to keep the wood chips or logs, as there is typically a cost to remove them.

Determine where sewer or other buried things are located and make us aware of them.

What is your reason for tree removal? If you are building something, it is helpful for us to know the whole scope of the job or the end result.

Access is a major factor in our work. Our equipment needs a minimum width of 10 feet to access. Can we remove bushes or other trees in the way? Were you considering removing that fence?

We steer clear of any work in close proximity to high voltage (pole to pole) wires. If a tree is growing in or near high voltage wires, your power company must first come trim the tree away from the wires before we can do our work. Your power company will not charge you to do this, but it can sometimes take a few months before they can come. This does not apply to service (pole to house) wires. We can work near service wires, and if necessary, a temporary disconnect can be set up with your power company as long as they have a notice of 3 business days.

We prefer to work near blacktop or stone lanes as opposed to beautiful, soft, sensitive yards because our equipment is heavy and can cause damage due to the weight of our equipment.

We do offer the option to simply take a tree down and you as the homeowner can clean it up yourself. This is much cheaper than if we do a complete removal.

List the steps of the tree removal process.

Call or e-mail to receive an estimate, providing your address and details on which/how many trees you want looked at

Mark your tree(s).

We will come and leave a proposal for you with the prices.

Call or e-mail if you have questions or would like to proceed with having the work done.

Scheduling depends on weather, as well as other work using the same equipment in your area.

Cars must be moved so we can have room for our equipment to work.

The actual tree removal is quite simple once all the other logistics are worked out.

The tree is either dropped in one section, or if there's not room to do that, pieces are lowered and chipped up right away. Logs that don't fit through the chipper are moved with a skid loader and loaded on a trailer.

If you choose to have the stump ground, this will be on a different day than the tree removal, usually a week or so following.

What are some common issues you face when it comes to tree removal?

To provide a safer and more efficient service, we sometimes need to access the tree through your yard. Our trucks are heavy and we do our best to schedule when yards are fit, however, we cannot guarantee there will be no damage to your yard due to the weight of our trucks. Our equipment can sometimes damage blacktop, concrete, grass, or shrubbery when accessing trees.

Scheduling can also be difficult for us, since our work is weather dependent. When the ground is fit, we give priority to jobs where we need to access by driving in yards. When the ground is wet, we do jobs that we can access from blacktop. Sometimes it can be a long wait until the ground is fit enough to drive on, but we do our best to be flexible with any deadlines you may have with projects following the tree work.

What advice do you have for the homeowner during this process?

Have a plan of what you need done so we have clarity of your expectations. Marked trees or a map with written instructions are very helpful!

Cars are a common problem. We must have cars out of the way before we come with our equipment!

If you are home when the work is completed, you are welcome to watch, but you must stay back out of the way or watch from a neighbor's house to ensure your safety!

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you?

You can call us at 717.354.5939 or e-mail, and we will respond to get details on where you are located and what work you would like us to look at for you.

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