Why Hire an Arborist
An arborist specializes in the care of individual trees. Arborists are knowledgeable about the needs of trees and are trained and equipped to provide proper care. Proper tree care is an investment that can lead to substantial returns. Properly maintained trees are attractive and can add considerable value to your property while poorly maintained trees can be a significant liability. Pruning or removing trees, especially large trees, can be dangerous work. Tree work should be done only by those trained and equipped to work safely in trees. Hiring an arborist is a decision that should not be taken lightly.
- Check the phone book under Arborists or Tree Service. While anyone can list themselves in the yellow pages, a listing at least indicates some permanence.
- Never pay in advance. Don't be rushed by "do-it-today" bargains.
- Ask for references. Take a look at previous work and talk to previous clients.
- Is the individual or company licensed as required? Some cities and towns may require individuals or companies engaged in tree care to be licensed. Check with your local city hall.
- A good arborist will offer a wide range of services such as pruning, cabling/bracing, lightning protection, fertilization and pest control.
- Stop topping! Don't hire a tree service that routinely tops trees. Topping damages a tree's health and appearance and initiates a sooner death. A good arborist knows the alternatives to topping that will keep your tree healthy so it can be enjoyed for many years.
- Ask for certificates of insurance, including proof of liability for personal and property damage, and workman's compensation. Call the insurance company and ask if the policy is current. In some circumstances, you can be held financially responsible if damage is done to a neighbor's property or an uninsured worker is hurt on your property.
- Don't spike a tree. Spikes leave openings in a tree's protective bark that may allow insects and disease to enter. A good arborist will use spikes only to climb trees that are being removed.
- Check memberships. Ask if the individual is a member of any professional arborist organizations such as the International Society of Arboriculture, American Society of Consulting Arborists or Tree Care Industry Association. Consulting Arborists can be found through these professional arborist organizations as well. Membership does not guarantee quality, but lack of membership may cast doubt on the person's professionalism.
- Shop around. Have more than one arborist look at your job and give you an estimate.
- Beware of door knockers. Most reputable companies have plenty of work without going door to door. Again, avoid "do-it-today" bargains. Be particularly wary of door knockers after storms. Often, non-professionals see a chance to earn quick money and end up creating high risk situations for workers and homeowners while doing more damage to a storm damaged tree.