An arborist is a specialist in the care of individual trees. Many tree services will claim to be arborists, but are not. These companies will go so far as posting membership logos on their vehicles stating membership to specific tree societies. This is terribly misleading to the customer and in no way qualifies them as a certified arborist.
Almost all “door knockers” and “flyer flingers” are not certified arborists and are usually never properly trained to perform professional tree work. Be very leary of this group. Cheap prices equal incorrect and risky tree work. Look for uniformed employees and companies that have all the proper personal protective gear and heavy equipment to service your property.
Always hire an ISA certified arborist. This qualification can only come from taking and passing an extensive exam given by the International Society of Arboriculture. Once an individual has obtained their ISA certification, they must attend various seminars throughout the year in order to earn continuing education unit (CEU’s) to keep their certification valid. More on this topic is posted below.
Arborists are knowledgeable about the needs of trees and are trained and equipped to provide proper care. Hiring an arborist is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Proper tree care is an investment that can lead to substantial returns. Well-cared-for trees are attractive and can add considerable value to your property. Poorly maintained trees can create hazards and become 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.
Services That Arborists Can Provide
Article written by the International Society of Arboriculture
An arborist can determine the type of pruning necessary to maintain or improve the health, appearance, and safety of trees. These techniques include but are not limited to: •eliminating dead branches and branches that cross and are rubbing on each other. •removing limbs that interfere with wires, building facades, gutters, roofs, chimneys, or windows, or that obstruct streets or sidewalks •removing weak limbs that pose a hazard or may lead to decay •removing diseased or insect-infested limbs •creating better tree structure to lessen wind resistance and reduce the potential for storm damage •correctly training young trees •removing limbs damaged by adverse weather conditions •removing branches, or thinning, to increase light and air penetration •improving the shape or silhouette of the tree •Reducing the overall size of trees by making cuts back to correct branches.
Although tree removal should be carefully considered, there are circumstances when it is absolutely necessary. A certified arborist can help decide whether a tree should be removed or preserved. Arborists have the skills and equipment to safely and efficiently remove trees. Removal is recommended when the tree •is dead or dying •is considered irreparably hazardous •is causing an obstruction that is impossible to correct through pruning •is crowding and causing harm to other trees •is to be replaced by a more suitable specimen •is located in an area where new construction requires removal
Emergency Tree Care
Storms may cause limbs or entire trees to fall, often landing on other trees, homes and other structures or cars. The weight of storm-damaged trees is great, and they can be dangerous to remove or trim. An arborist can assist in performing the job in a safe manner, while reducing further risk of damage to property.
Some arborists plant trees, and most can recommend types of trees that are appropriate for a specific location. The wrong tree in the wrong location will lead to future problems as a result of limited growing space resulting in poor growth, health and vigor.
Many arborists also provide a variety of other tree care services, including •Plant Health Care, a concept of preventive maintenance to keep trees in good health, which will help the tree better defend itself against insects, disease, and site problems •fertilization •cabling or bracing for added support to branches with weak attachment •aeration to improve root growth •installation of lightning protection systems •spraying or injecting to control certain insect and disease problems
When selecting the right Arborist for the job: 1.Check for a certified arborist to be on staff and current membership in professional organizations such as the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), or the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA). Such membership demonstrates a willingness on the part of the arborist to stay up to date on the latest techniques and information. 2.Check for ISA arborist certification. Certified Arborists are experienced professionals who have passed an extensive examination covering all aspects of tree care. 3.Ask for proof of insurance and then phone the insurance company if you are not satisfied. A reputable arborist carries personal and property damage insurance as well as state mandated workers compensation insurance. Many home owners have had to pay out large amounts of money for damages caused by uninsured individuals claiming to be tree experts. You could be held responsible for damages and injuries that occur as a result of the job. Check for necessary permits and licenses. Some governmental agencies require contractors to apply for permits and/or to apply for a license before they are able to work. Be sure they comply with any local, state, provincial, or national laws that govern their work. 4.Ask for references to find out where the company has done work similar to the work you are requesting. Don’t hesitate to check references or visit other work sites where the company or individual has done tree work. Remember, tree care is a substantial, long-lasting investment; you would not buy a car without a test drive! Get more than one estimate, unless you know and are comfortable with the arborist. You may have to pay for the estimates, and it will take more time, but it will be worth the investment. 5.Don’t always accept the low bid. You should examine the credentials and the written specifications of the firms that submitted bids and determine the best combination of price, work to be done, skill, and professionalism to protect your substantial investment. 6.Be wary of individuals who go door to door and offer bargains for performing tree work. Most reputable companies are too busy to solicit work in this manner. Improper tree care can take many years to correct itself and, in some cases, it can never be corrected. Are you willing to take that risk with your valuable investment? keep in mind that good arborists will perform only accepted practices. For example, practices such as topping a tree, removing an excessive amount of live wood, using climbing spikes on trees that are not being removed, and removing or disfiguring living trees without just cause are unnecessary. 7.Get it in writing. Most reputable arborists have their clients sign a contract. Be sure to read the contract carefully. 8.Don’t be afraid to ask questions, such ask – When will the work be started and completed? – Who will be responsible for clean-up? – Is this the total price? – If I would like more to be done, what is your hourly rate?
Be an Informed Consumer
One of the best methods to use in choosing an arborist is to educate yourself on some of the basic principles of tree care. ISA offers several other brochures in this series, which discuss many of the basic principles of tree care. Your local garden center, extension agent, or city arborists are also excellent sources of information if you should have further questions. They may also be able to refer you to an ISA Certified Arborist in your area.
Developed by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), a non-profit organization supporting tree care research around the world and is dedicated to the care and preservation of shade and ornamental trees. For further information, contact: ISA, P.O. Box 3129, Champaign, IL 61826-3129, USA. E-mail inquires: firstname.lastname@example.org
© International Society of Arboriculture.