Hiring a Tree Care Company
Trees have the power to increase property values,
improve air quality, reduce household energy costs, improve water quality and more according to the Unites States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service. When trees are present in our everyday landscape it’s
easy to forget just how significant they are to all of our lives. Trees
of the right variety placed properly and cared for professionally
provide enormous benefits and have significant economic, environmental
and societal value.
Become an intelligent tree care consumer. And remember, without
regular care, trees can quickly change from a valuable resource to a
What is an arborist?
Be aware that the credentials of someone calling
themselves an arborist can vary widely. Don't just hire someone with a
chain saw who knocks on your door!
An arborist is a professional who
cares for trees and other woody plants by pruning, fertilizing,
monitoring for insects and diseases, consulting on tree related issues,
and occasionally planting, transplanting and removing trees.
Beware of the fly-by-night "individuals" who call themselves
arborists. "With hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars at stake,
not to mention the integrity and appearance of your property and your
personal safety, make sure that you take your time in deciding which
company you should hire," warns Peter Gerstenberger, director of safety
and education for TCIA. "Disreputable companies are renowned for ripping
gutters off, breaking fences and bird baths, and even dropping trees on
houses. Then they typically fold up and leave, never to be seen again."
How do I find an arborist/tree care company?
TCIA’s search to find a TCIA tree care member company in your
When you hire a TCIA-member tree care company, you are assured
that the company you are hiring has access to the most recent
information on tree care practices, and that they are insured and/or
bonded to protect you and your valuable property. Verify additional
professional affiliations the company might have, such as membership in
International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).
You can also seek recommendations from neighbors, friends or business
associates who you know have had professional tree care work done in
the past and check the Better Business Bureau to find information about
companies in your area. When reviewing companies, look for information
about the company: number of years in business, professional
affiliations, licenses, certification, etc. Also check with your City
Hall and see if your municipality requires licensing for arborists; many
You may also consider hiring a TCIA Accredited company. TCIA Accreditation is a voluntary program that credentials companies which meet stringent
criteria for professionalism, employee training, state and federal
safety regulations, business ethics and customer satisfaction. Under the
process, businesses undergo an extensive review and a comprehensive
audit of professional and business practices aimed at safeguarding
Accreditation is the only business practices and compliance program
for tree care companies in America. Companies accredited by TCIA are
required to provide documented proof in many areas that protect
consumers. When you hire an accredited tree care company, you can rest
assured that TCIA has checked for proper insurance, applicable business
and pesticide licenses, and customer service that is reliable and
ethical. Make an informed decision – choose a company with the TCIA
Accreditation "seal of approval." Find an Accredited TCIA member company
by company name, zip code, services or other criteria.
What should I ask when I meet my arborist?
meeting with your arborist for the first time, ask to see current
certificates of liability and workers' compensation insurance, if
- Ask for references, and check on the quality of their
- Don't be rushed by a bargain, don't pay in advance, get estimates
in writing and insist on a written work order. Get additional estimates
or opinion of the needed work.
- Insist on a signed contract as to cost, dates when work is to be
performed, and exactly what is to be done.
- Ask about ANSI Standards. A
professional arborist will be aware of the current safety, pruning,
fertilizing, and cabling standards.
- Insist that climbing spikes are used only if the tree is to be cut down; spikes damage the tree.
What if I don’t want to hire a professional?
for your trees needs to be done by skilled, trained and insured
professionals, both for the health and beauty of your trees and for your
safety and financial well-being.
For your safety, do not perform treework. Taken from published
reports, TCIA maintains a monthly list of Accident Briefs that outlines
the sad details of homeowners getting severely injured or killed when
attempting their own tree work. If you are at all uncertain about what
could happen by attempting your own tree work, contact a qualified tree
care professional for help.
For your financial protection, hire a company that is professional.
Studies published in the Journal of Arboriculture have demonstrated that
it is actually cheaper to regularly prune trees rather than neglecting
them, and cleaning up the resulting damage! And no matter when you’re
hiring them, be aware that if the tree care company doesn’t have
insurance or is not a legal company – you, the homeowner – could be held
responsible as a contractor.
When to Hire an Arborist
Bonus Tip: Break with tradition and shop in the off-season.
and summer are typically when our thoughts turn to the yard and the
trees, but shopping for tree care in the winter offers several potential
- Many reputable companies offer modest price discounts on winter
work. They do this to provide employment to their loyal help and to
improve their cash flow.
- You can get the service when you need it. The best service providers
typically have huge backlogs of work in the summer, but can respond to
your needs more quickly in the off season.
- Winter is a good time to look at and work on most trees. The tree
architecture is highly visible, and there are no leaves to add to the