Those pesky trees. Let’s say you are finally willing to make the satellite leap, when your installer gives you the bad news: the trees are in the way. Or even worse, let’s say you install a dish, only to have it blocked a year later as your tree-line skyrockets.

It’s a big problem and there isn’t a clear answer. Let’s start by addressing a few common comments on this subject’s many forums (here, here, and here).

I installed my dish in February, it worked fine in my wooded lot, but now I’ve completely lost my signal.

The problem could be, believe it or not, leaves. One woman in Illinois experienced this: "“As the trees started getting leaves on them, we’d get those little squares [on the TV screen]. Then it just kept telling us it’s acquiring a signal.” The installer apparently received a strong signal with the trees obstructing and assured the couple there wouldn’t be a problem. He didn’t consider the leaves come Spring.

My neighbor’s dish is blocked by branches, but his signal is perfect. Why me?

While the provider may have something to do with this, it could be simply a result of geometry. Most cheap, compact dishes are actually offset, so the line perpendicular to the dish’s face is not the actual direction of the signal. See the attached diagram (hat-tip to Aris):

My south-facing roof is completely blocked by trees. What do I do?

Your dish does not necessarily need to face south. Check with your provider and a professional installer. Also, consider a ground placement if there is enough open-space.

Before placing a dish, spend a considerable amount of time surveying your property, ideally with a satellite professional. And do not underestimate the growth of trees. It would be wise to identify your trees and research their maximum height and growth-rates. A Princeton American Elm, for example, can grow three to six feet per year during early development ( You can always trim your trees but this could be a costly affair—and don’t count on your local government to trim road-side trees to improve your tv reception.

But, as one reader points out, don’t just resign and let the trees win. Be creative.

So, if you do live in a place that is surrounded with trees and blocking the southern sky, don’t give up because there’s always something that can work out. I honestly didn’t think we stood a chance. But you can make it happen…so don’t give up.