If a Tree Falls and No One's There to See it Hit Your House, You're Still Fucked! (VIDEOS!)

When my wife and I went looking for our first house back in 1987, we had specific things we had to have. A big yard was tops on the list and we wanted a long driveway and mature landscaping, as the realtors put it. We found an inexpensive fixer-upper and although we planned on upgrading to a larger home, we never did, and we've lived in the same house for 34 years. About 15 years ago three shallow-rooted pine trees in the backyard toppled over during a vicious storm, roots and all. The trees took down some fencing but no one got hurt. Those trees are gone, but several other trees recently lost major limbs and as a result, they began leaning dangerously in the direction of our house. We decided it would be a good idea to have them removed before they became a much bigger problem...

During a recent storm a limb cracked and this tree started leaning towards the house. Removing it was a no-brainer…


We called a few tree companies, and although price was an important factor in our decision, equally important was the character of the guy in charge. Too many times we overlooked character in favor of price and we didn't get the job we expected. We weren't about to let that happen again.

When I met Nate Dougan owner of Dougan Tree Service, I was immediately impressed. In addition to his good nature, he served in the Marines for 10 years, part of that time in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he's currently a Boston Fire Fighter. After we spoke for a bit he told me he was gonna be my neighbor, that he purchased a good size parcel of land diagonally across the street from us, and he and his wife were planning on building a house on the property. He quoted me and my next-door neighbor Steve, who was also looking to have a monstrous tree removed from his front yard, a neighborhood-friendly price. We immediately hired him.

We've had a lot of rain this summer and most contractors had to move jobs up and Nate was no exception. The tree work was supposed to begin mid-May but because of the bad weather, it turned into the end of June. Being a self-employed plumber for 35 years, I'm very familiar with weather delays and the havoc they can cause to job schedules, especially for trades that work outdoors like tree guys. I understood…

Here are the three trees in the front yard that were being removed. The one leaning towards the house lost a limb several years ago & started rotting from the inside. We took many family photos in front of that tree, prom pics, etc., but now it was time for it to be removed.

I had a total of four trees that needed to be removed and five stumps to be ground down. We had a tree removed years ago and we cheaped out and decided to leave the stump. Not a great decision. There were thousands of ants living in that stump and even after I killed two queens, somehow the colonies survived, and killing ants became a seasonal job. I hate ants and this time around all the stumps had to go. Fortunately, Nate owns his own stump grinder and he doesn't have to sub it out, making it more affordable.


Bob, Rob, and Nate just getting started. The two trees behind them were coming down first…

On the day the job started, Nate and his crew showed up early. Bob operates the crane, Rob works on the ground with Nate, and Corey is the climber. They began with the two bigger trees on the corner of my property, which were about 75 feet tall and home to some pretty pesky squirrels who were responsible for the thousands of acorns that populated my side yard every fall. In addition to the acorns, there were leaves, pine needles, and pine cones all over the side yard and I spent hours cleaning them up every year. I was excited to have the trees removed and rid myself of those pesky squirrels while also minimizing my seasonal cleanups.

Corey is the climber and one badass motherfucker! Fearless! After a quick sandwich, he was right back up in the trees! 

Corey is 30 years old and has been doing tree work since he was in his teens and he has absolutely no fear. He handled a chainsaw 60 feet in the air like he was standing on the ground. In addition to doing the cutting, he attached all the slings and tied all the knots high in the trees and was in direct communication with Bob the crane operator, who displayed some incredible hand-eye coordination of his own along with nerves of steel and pinpoint accuracy. The entire process is a team effort and all four of these guys were really good at their jobs and at working together so no one got hurt. When you do tree work you have to trust the people you work with and watching them work it was obvious these guys trusted each other.

After trimming some smaller branches, Corey tied up a bigger limb, cut it, and Bob lowered it to the ground where Nate and Rob moved it through the chipper. Teamwork baby!


Tree work is extremely dangerous. One of my good neighbors and one of the nicest guys I ever met, volunteered to help his good friend take down some trees. Neither one of them had any experience. When a tree unexpectedly spun and was not falling as planned, my friend tried to get out of the way but the tree fell faster than he could run and it hit him. He was DOA and this occurred just three weeks after he retired. I was a pallbearer at his funeral and his death was devastating to family and friends. Don't try and do it yourself, when it comes to tree work hire a Pro.

Here's Corey high up in the second tree. After securing the sling he'll make the cut and Bob will take control of the cut section and lower it to Nate and Rob who will then cut it up and send it through the chipper.

When I was in my early 20s I worked with my best friend doing landscaping and part of it included light tree work, mostly pruning, but we did take down some trees. We didn't do anything near the scale of what Nate and his crew were doing at my house. Nate's crew had to work carefully since most of what they did was in close proximity to the road, wires, and houses. These guys operated like a well-oiled machine. It was a lot of fun watching them from a safe distance and some of my neighbors and their kids joined me. It was definitely a neighborhood spectacle.

I was concerned about the tree around the back that was gonna travel by crane over my house. I asked Bob and Nate if there was another way to do it and they both assured me that they do it all the time. Here's the bottom half of that tree going on a successful journey…


At the end of the first day, my four trees were down as was my next-door neighbor's tree. Nate came back a few days later with a log truck and took all the big stuff away. It was a very impressive piece of equipment. 

After Nate picked up the logs in my yard he headed over to Steve's and loaded up the biggest log of the day…

Then Rob and Nate came back with the stump grinder and got rid of all the stumps and cleaned up both yards. It was a job well done by Dougan Tree Service!

Here's Nate working the stump grinder. He's had to be careful because the teeth on the blade aren't cheap and the fill on my property has lots of rocks. At one point Nate had a pile of rocks he pulled from the area around the trees that would've surely damaged the blade.

I wish I had removed the four trees years ago. I like the open look at the corner and all my neighbors have told me they like it too. I'm anticipating an easier fall cleanup and a quicker snowmelt on my driveway this winter. And, I will not miss those fucking squirrels!

brusinski. Getty Images.


In the end, if you work hard and take down enough trees there just might be some good wood available for the right person…