Tree trimmer causes damage on South Knoxville man’s property


Trimming trees is not a job for amateurs. You have to hire someone who knows what they’re doing. A South Knoxville man admits he made a mistake with the man he hired to cut a tree at his house.

A sycamore tree can grow to massive proportions, typically reaching 100 feet or more. Calvin Farley wanted the big sycamore in his yard pruned to prevent any potential damage if there was a bad storm. Unfortunately, the man he hired botched the job, causing damage to Farley’s property and the property next door.

Broken branches are piled up in Farley’s backyard and his neighbor’s, where debris hasn’t moved since earlier this month. hat’s when he hired a tree trimmer to cut down several branches from the gigantic sycamore tree.

“We heard a big noise. My wife came and told me he got the sunroom and Brendan’s building and the fence,” said Farley.

The first branch that was cut fell on and crushed Farley’s fence and it nicked his compressor which wasn’t damaged. 

The second boom came from a branch that crushed another fence and damaged a greenhouse and shed that belongs to Farley’s neighbor. Farley said he watched the guy struggling while he was up in the tree 

Farley took a picture of his tree trimmer, Josh Smith, while he was working with some helpers below. When branches crashed to the ground, Farley said Smith assured him not to worry, he’ll make it right.

Smith is the owner of Smith Excavation in Dandridge. Farley said Smith apparently misjudged his skills as a tree trimmer.

“The last cut he made did the most damage,” said Brendan Smelser, Farley’s neighbor.

He said Smith enlisted his help in holding some ropes. 

“Well, he went up. He told us he was going to take three other branches off then do the main limb. He went up there, but didn’t do the first three cuts .It dropped. It was a very loud crash,” Smelser said.

Smith has not returned since early September when he sent two workers to cut fallen branches and to clean up.

“When I told him I’d give him a week’s deadline, he said, no problem. no problem,” said Farley. “Every time I come down it looks worse.”

Farley paid Smith $1,500, half upfront. He was also to build an attached car port with a tin roof.

“I told him upfront. If you do me a good job, I’ll be your best reference. But if you do me a bad job. I’ll be your worst reference,” said Farley.

WATE 6 On Your Side called Smith to get his side of the story, but he did not want to talk. His business card says he’s licensed and insured. While he may have a county business license, in checking the state’s directory of licensed contractors, there was no listing for Josh Smith.

Tree cutting is like a science. According to the experts, it’s almost always best to trim or prune a tree during its dormant season. Trimmers are warned to be conscientious about the size of the branch before it’s removed. To choose a drop zone, they have to figure out where it will fall before cuts are made. They’re advised to choose a spot that is level, so the tree doesn’t roll and to always to keep safety in mind.

“I want my neighbor whole, which I feel awful about. He’s more damaged than I am. I got to pay to have this cleaned up now. I can’t do it,” said Farley.

If you are going to have a tree pruned, ask your arborist or tree care company if they prune according to the National Standards Institute for Tree Pruning. Those standards recommend and in some cases require the use of certain tools, cutting techniques and pruning methods. 

Professionals remind that poor pruning can cause damage that lasts for the life of the tree. 

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