Get Rid of Dutch Elm Disease Trees

There’s a knock at the door. You warily answer it. It’s a dude from the city. He shows you that dead tree in your front yard which now has an orange stripe around it. He says it has Dutch Elm Disease and you have to remove it. The city is giving you two weeks to get rid of it or they’ll do it and bill you.
This article is aimed primarily at homeowners who live in town. You can’t just chainsaw the tree down because it’ll fall in the street or on your house or on your neighbor’s house or on their car…you get the idea. So even if you do have a chainsaw, you’ll also need other specialized equipment, like a cherry picker (which, interestingly enough, you can get at Amazon) in order to remove it safely.

The Tree with Dutch Elm DiseaseYou have two options: Do it yourself, or hire someone else to do it. Disclaimer: this article is aimed at the latter approach primarily. Only attempt to remove a tree yourself if you know what you’re doing. It’s incredibly dangerous and is not responsible for the terrible things that can happen if you if you attempt it.
As it turns out, if you don’t have the time, equipment, or knowledge to do it yourself, there are ways to get a reasonable price on tree removal. You’re going to want to take a three-pronged approach to this: Facebook, Craigslist, and Google.

First thing’s first, though: no matter what you manage to do, this is not going to be cheap. But, you bought the house, you knew this was going to happen eventually and it’s unfortunate.

Facebook to Get Rid of Dutch Elm Disease

The Facebook method is about asking your friends for help. Go to your social media site of choice and see if any of your friends know someone who does this. Tree removal is sufficiently expensive that guilting a good friend into doing it is perfectly acceptable. The most important caveat when asking around in your friend circles is to really ensure that whoever does it is actually a professional and is properly insured. If they are not, then if they get hurt on your property, you are liable. You may very well have a friend-of-a-friend who does this kind of stuff for a living.
I’m not saying that your friends aren’t competent and capable. But if you do decide to pay cousin Jimmy to cut down the tree, then understand the risks to him and your insurance premiums if something goes wrong.

Craigslist to Get Rid of Dutch Elm Disease

If you don’t already know, Craigslist is basically classified section of the Internet. Most cities of a reasonable size will have a dedicated Craigslist page and you have two ways to approach the Craigslist method. You’re going fishing. You either actively cast, or you sit with a bobber. Ideally, you’ll do both.

Place your own ad: You can place your own ad on Craigslist with a picture of the offending tree and your requirements. You really ought to mention that you prefer someone who is licensed and insured. Then wait and see what happens. Licensed professionals often troll places like Craigslist looking for just this sort of thing, so you might find something. And they might be willing to give you a bid right there if you post a few pictures from different angles.

Search for ads: Many independent small businesses will use Craigslist as a free advertising platform. So you can look for anyone advertising tree removal services. Ensure that they are properly licensed and insured and then shoot them some pictures of the tree and ask for a bid.

Google to Get Rid of Dutch Elm Disease

Open space after removing dutch elm disease treeThis is the active search method. Pull out that phone book and flip to the section on tree removal. Or better yet, join us in the 21st century and do a google search with the name of your town and the words “tree removal” and see if you get any hits. You probably will. Get some contact info, make some phone calls and actively solicit bids. There are websites like which can help you solicit bids, however, I have not used them and cannot speak to their quality. It could very well be that they’re a Yelp kind of shady. Or they could be pretty good. Regardless, I’ve always found that doing my own research and finding my own contractors gives me a greater sense of control over the whole process.

Local Bids to Get Rid of Dutch Elm Disease

Your goal with all three prongs is to solicit bids. You’re really not looking for just one dude with a chainsaw; you’re looking to get at least a handful of bids (five or six would be nice) so that you can compare. They’re all going to be unpleasant, so be prepared. Tree removal is expensive. Whoever does it has to transport some pretty significant equipment to your house and for a large tree it could take an hour or more, especially if you want the stump removed.

When this happened to us, the first bids we saw for a large elm tree were in the neighborhood of $1,200 including the stump removal. We got lucky in that there were probably a dozen trees in our area that had been marked for removal and there was one tree removal service that was actively trying to get as many of these contracts as possible and so they low-balled everyone and I think we got a pretty substantial tree removed plus stump-grinding for around $450.

Closing Thoughts

Empty dirt after removing dutch elm disease treeThe key to successfully getting that dutch elm disesased tree out of your life is persistence and patience. Get as many bids as you can before you commit to anyone. It’s an expensive and frustrating thing to do because it’s basically just throwing significant money away for very little gain. So it will pay to do your homework.

Lastly, if you happen to be home when they do it, go sit outside and watch. It’s super interesting.