When A Dead Tree Falls On Your Head, Does It Make A Sound?

February 10, 2010 | By | Comments (7)
Tree Yes, it does, actually. Only you won’t hear it, because you’ll be dead too.
This is why, if you enjoy life and wish to continue yours, you should never ignore a dead shade tree on your property.
Of course, it may not hit you. It may hit your car, your house, your cat, or worst of all, your satellite dish. And then you’ll wish it had hit you, because without 450 channels of 24-hour music videos and home shopping shows, life is not worth living.
Please Don’t Crush Dear Old Mom
My 87-year-old mother recently had to deal with a dangerous old tree that was leaning badly. Upon closer inspection, we discovered that the tree trunk was hollow inside. This is like looking inside a 50-story skyscraper and discovering someone stole all the steel. The question is not if it will fall, but when.
Taking down a big tree is usually expensive, but sometimes you catch a break. If the tree is on a city right-of-way, often the city will remove it for free. In my mother’s case, her tree was hanging over the neighborhood’s power lines. If it fell, it would have taken out power for the whole street. So we called the power company and had them come out and look. The next day, they sent out a crew and cut down the tree, and didn’t charge dear old Mom a dime.
But suppose you have to hire a tree company to cut it down. Price is not your only consideration. You want to make sure these guys don’t accidentally drop the tree on your house and if they do, they’re insured to cover repairs. So before you agree to the work, ask the following questions:

1. Are you licensed?

2. Are you insured?

3. Do you belong to a professional organization, such as the International Society of Arboriculture, the National Arborist Association, or the American Society of Consulting Arborists?

4. After you cut down the tree, will you haul it away?

5. Do you play air guitar during Jimmy Page’s classic solo in “Stairway to Heaven?” (I always do.)

Don’t pay anything until the work is done to your satisfaction.


  1. Tree Removal Atlanta GA

    Nice information on the blog. Removing large trees is a mammoth process and only experienced arborists who are completely insured to perform this task. We need to take all necessary precautions while removing trees so that nearby buildings, electric wire and other obstacles are not damaged.

    February 23, 2010 at 5:57 am
  2. Grumpy Gardener aka His Excellency

    See, Jeff, you made a big mistake. Next time, just hire a gap-toothed redneck driving a broken-down pickup.
    You’re exactly right. When a live tree falls, you’re not legally responsible. But if it was dead, it’s legally a hazard and you’re on the hook for any damage it causes.

    February 13, 2010 at 10:01 am
  3. Deirdre

    I had one of my trees fall on my neighbors’ house once. I called my insurance company, and the first thing they asked was, “Was it dead?” It was not dead, so it was an act of God, and I was not liable. If it had been dead, I would have been. Even if you have no fear of the tree falling on YOUR house, your insurance company would want it gone.

    February 12, 2010 at 3:29 pm
  4. Jeff

    I got a cheap price on cutting down two large trees and the guys used massive equipment to remove the trees. They cut the trees in such large sections that they caused some unexpected yard damage when they fell. Then the massive equipment did additional damage. Lesson learned.

    February 12, 2010 at 7:54 am
  5. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Some companies will tell you that your city or town will haul away the branches and trunk, but they won’t. So you get stuck with the bill.

    February 11, 2010 at 12:41 pm
  6. Liza

    Good information – especially the hauling away part. I had a friend who hired a company to down the tree, but then they left it! Unbelievable!

    February 11, 2010 at 11:10 am
  7. pc

    We moved to our current address in the fall a few years ago, after the leaves had fallen and discovered, after a bad storm, that the red oak directly beside our house must have been dead since it was now On The House, snapped off about 6 ft up and somewhat hollow. So, last spring, when 3 massive red oaks put forth NO leaves, we had a tree removal service do what their name implies and completely removed the dead trees. No way we could have downed those trees around the house and barn safely on our own.

    February 10, 2010 at 8:27 pm

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