Not spending money on trees is the expensive part

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Ask arborist Dmitriy Kahmitov and he'll tell you it's cheaper to get rid of a big tree than to take care of it.

It could cost several thousand dollars or more to remove a mature tree.

But if you take care of a tree, spend the hundreds of dollars a year to have it inspected and trimmed and treated the right way, the tab is much higher in the long-run.

It's trees that get ignored though, that get sick and fall over into a house or a car, that are the really expensive ones.

And leave it to the professionals, like Kahmitov, who says "when a homeowner tries to trim a big tree or take it out, when he gets hurt or ruins somebody's property, it costs much more in the long run."

Kahmitov works with Tree Expert Northwest, a tree service that was swamped with business Monday. He says there are some easy things you can look for on a tree that could warn you of potential problems.

If branches sprout too close together, if several branches grow into a tangled bunch, if there are bare patches of bark from one branch rubbing on another, those are all potential weak spots where branches will break off, Kahmitov said.

Look at the trunk, especially for mushroom type growths at the base that are a sign of disease.

One thing Kahmitov says you should never do is top-off a mature tree, even if it looks too tall.

"Cutting off the top only opens it up to disease that will spread through the tree rotting it from the inside, and those are the trees that eventually fall down. That gets really expensive," he said.