If a tree fell…

Big wind here a week ago. We have a large open field to the side of the house, and a stand of 3 poplars, all quite large, at least 40-50 feet. Oops, only 2 now, as one broke off at the ground line.

I have estimates to clean it up ($1000-$1800) and several have mentioned they’ve not seen a “clean break” like that before. It’s not that the root ball levered up, it just clean snapped at ground level. Luckily no damage to anything (except the lawn.)

One of the tree company (not the arborist) estimators was called over by the neighbor to look at a couple of his trees, and he mentioned that the two remaining “don’t look good” and should be brought down. Worse, he says it may fall on the neighbor’s house if/when it does. That would not be good (although I mention in passing one of his trees did fall and smash into our house causing several thousand dollars of (insured) damage. Our insurance paid, not his, because “our house”.)

What I’m getting to is this: have we been “put on notice” that our tree is dangerous? And do we therefore have some kind of liability over and above what happened when the situation was reversed?

A side note: I contracted a tree arborist company because the manner in which the one tree fell freaked me. The arborist says the other two are OK, that the one that fell had entangled (“girdled”) roots which were shallow and inadequate. He conducted several tests looking for hollows, probing the ground to find the root system, etc.

He made one suggestion:

The two remaining are actually one which forked just above the ground line. The arborist suggests bracing the two together via a cable (internally drilled between the two, not cradled around the exterior) so they don’t “split”, even though there’s no sign of that being imminent anyway.

Too much info, too long, sorry. But it’s sort of complicated and I’d like advice on my liability. We get along fine with this guy, FWIW.


Isn’t it funny they charge that much to clean up a tree when you can buy a cord of wood for 250 dollars? I had 6 italian cypress trees that they wanted 1500 dollars a piece to remove, they were about 40 feet tall. I removed them all myself and it cost me 400 dollars for the chainsaw. 1 tree a day and pulled the stumps too. I told my wife I could put them out of business charging half the price.



Usually, IF a healthy tree from your neighbor’s yard falls and hits your house, it is considered an “Act of God” and you pay to repair your house. IF and unhealthy/damage tree from your neighbor’s causes the damage, is an act of negligence and they pay to repair your house. However, there are some variations in some states. Some states require a “notice” to a neighbor with a diseased tree.

Personally I would cut the trees down instead of cabling to save them. They are not some 500 year old oak tree with branches almost covering a 1/2 acre.

Now if you know someone that is into woodworking/furniture building and has their own mini-mill, they may cut them down for you.


Goofy liability laws vary between states. I suggest you call your insurance company ask them if you have insurance and/or liability should a tree on your property fall an damage a neighbor’s property. If the answer is yes to liability, ask about deductible.

And finally consider do you want to risk a CLUE event. Those last for years and are often the basis why insurance company #2 will not accept your business should you loose (or want to change) coverage from insurance company #1.

We had a $16,000 theft loss and got to live with higher premiums for 3 years. The CLUE system effectively made it more expensive to change insurance coverage than accept the higher premiums.

I had a tree within a few feet of our Nashville house that had a split or Y which an arborist warned us about. It was not very expensive to have the cable installed. In our case the cable was about 20 feet off the grounds and about 12 feet long.


We went this route with a very large bifurcated oak that is situated between our house and our neighbor’s house. The way the trunk is bifurcated, if the tree did split, one side would come down on our house and the other side would land on our neighbor’s house. We opted to have the tree cabled as described. Our arborist climbed higher than 20 feet to cable these two parts of the tree together with large eye bolts drilled through the tree. At least now I cannot be held negligible as I have done what was suggested to remedy the situation as recommended by a professional. You may want to consider that option.



That’s what we’re going to do. The quoted price is $1350. Does that seem reasonable?

Not sure if you can compare cabling to removal but we had a 50-60 sycamore removed and the cost was $2,300. We got a $200 refund because we were supposed to have the stump ground but they found out it was too close to a gas line and therefore too dangerous. This was a six man operation and each one was a specialist (climbers, gophers, giant chain saw operator, grinders, etc.).


In Montana they are called loggers and get paid 28 dollars an hour. LOL


I had a bunch of work done by the arborists on that invoice and the cabling was not specifically quoted. Here’s what we paid in Feb 2020 to have that work done:

Hand Removal
At the rear of the property, remove and dispose of:
Fallen White Pine.
Red Maple.
Install 1/4" EHS galvanized steel cable between two primary
upright columns of Oak at right rear corner of house to
provide supplemental support to main branch union.



Poplars are very weak trees. I would never want any large poplars near my home.

As to cost to remove, consider having them drop the tree and pay a handyman to deal with it once on the ground. Unfortunately poplar is also not a good wood for burning as it burns too fast.

We once had a forked ash tree split in two, fortunately the half that was leaning away from our house. There was a crack in the trunk where the other half of the fork remained, pointing right at our master bedroom. This was July 3rd. A thunderstorm was approaching and the company sent out their team to take it down on July 4th, no doubt quite happy given they charged us triple time. Over $6K for one tree. If I had thought it through I would have neutralized the risk by downing the tree on the 4th, and have someone come back for cleanup on the 5th or later, at regular wages. We did call the insurance co and they said it could be a problem if we did not remove it.



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I finally got around to this. Here’s a picture of that bifurcated Oak. I circled where the cable is between the two trunks.



I would normally just shoot you a private email to say thanks, the pic is quite instructive. But the Fool has taken away that option, and clicking the thumbs up doesn’t seem enough.

So thank you. I have another, and I hope the last guy coming tomorrow to look at it, and will make the decision on who then. But yes, we’re going to have the tree braced that way, so the picture is very helpful.