Tackle the big problems first. What trees are there in the garden, do you like them, are they healthy, overcrowded or just too big? Sometimes a tree really needs to go because it is diseased, misshapen, too close to the house or the wrong tree in the wrong place. The longer you dither about taking this decision, the longer it will be until you can put the garden to rights. Even if you think you can tackle this task (which you shouldn’t unless it is more shrub than tree) bear in mind that a tree surgeon has the tools, the safety equipment and the means to dispose of all the timber and will have the job done before you have located the (unsuitable) tools with which you were planning to attempt to do the job. At the end of the day you will have had the pleasure of watching a skilled craftsman, you will have spent some money but no energy – and you will be a step closer to regaining your garden.
Felling isn’t the only way of dealing with a problem tree, sometimes judicious pruning and removing the lower branches (known as ‘raising the crown’) will transform its appearance and introduce a lot more light into the garden. This is another task for the tree surgeon. In my own garden I have a vast tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) that needs the attention of a tree surgeon every three years or it would overhang both the roof of the house and most of the vegetable garden. Without this regular pruning it would plunge the greater part of the garden into shade.