How We Got the Utility Company to Pay for Tree Service

Landscaping is expensive. Like rly expensive. People always told me so, and I never believed them. But once I got wind of how much a full landscape project cost, I aimed to find all the ways to save funds. So this is the first of many upcoming blog posts sharing how we saved thousands of dollars fixing up the exterior of our home. Stay tuned for more!

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Whenever we were hanging out in the backyard, we heard a weird squeaking noise in the big pepper tree. At first, I hoped it was a small family of adorable birds/squirrels/opossums/koalas or anything else I'd welcome in my backyard. Alas, it wasn't a furry friend but rather the sound of our tree branches rubbing against the power lines. Years ago, our utility company wrapped the lines in a plastic tube to protect the cables, but the tree did as a trees do and grew around it. Even the most subtle of lovely breezes would make the bark creek against the tubing. Once I realized it wasn't chatting squirrels, the noise drove me bonkers.

I was about to cut the branches myself or hire a team to prune it properly until I got a hot tip from a friend. The utility company will cut the branches and prune the tree FOR FREE. Whhhaaaaat? I don't have to trim it myself? I don't need to pay anyone to do it? Done. Deal.

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The utility company is willing to pay for this because the maintenance could avoid potential damage. That pepper tree could yank down my power cable or that palm frond could fall on the pole and cut electricity to the whole block. Their costs to rush out to deal with outages is far more than the cost that they pay to the landscape companies they subcontract.

While I want a pretty tree filled with furry critters and free of squeaks, the power company has different priorities from me. They want to cut away all of the potential hazards for their power lines, even at the risk of ruining the shape or even the health of trees. What jerks. I took the risk of them mangling my tree and called them up to schedule a crew to come do the work. Easy peasy.

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When the landscape crew came to prune the pepper tree, they said that they could also prune the 50' tall palm tree that was near the electrical pole. My response was, "that sounds nice, but could you just cut it down instead?" He paused, looked at it, shrugged, and said, "sure!" Since I was having such success, I pushed my luck and asked, "could you cut down the smaller palm tree, too?" He looked back at it, shrugged, and said, "why not?!" So, they spent the better part of the day clearing out the yard. It was bliss.

GIF of tree being cut down - a trick to getting it removed for free - The Gold Hive

If you're curious why I wanted the palms gone, click here, and if you’re worried I cut down perfectly good trees, please stay tuned and you’ll see how many future trees I saved and how many I planted to replace them.

As the crew was leaving, I asked, "how much would this have cost me if the utility company didn't pay for it?" He responded, "maybe $4,000." I grinned ear to ear but tried to play it cool like I didn’t just get away with a bank heist.

So, with one phone call, a kind negotiation with a tree guy, and zero costs out of pocket, we had two giant palms cut down and a big tree pruned. I was on cloud nine.

At the front of the house, we also had two tall palms, one of which is really close to cable and phone lines along the street. I tried to get the cable company to prune them, but they said that trees pose no risk, so it isn’t a part of their maintenance. Luckily, our city cuts the trees along the street every two years. All I had to do was wait patiently for a few months and they got cleaned right up without having to lift a finger. If you’re local and want to know the schedule, click here.

For anyone with overhead power lines, I hope this hot tip helps saves you some $$$! Stay tuned because I have way more tips for landscaping on a budget headed your way.