To care for trees on your property, doing your homework is imperative to ensuring quality, safe work, avoiding scams and saving money, according to the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA).
“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 the time in deciding which company you should hire,” cautions Peter Gerstenberger, 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.”
Before beginning your search for a tree care professional, understand that the credentials for someone who uses the title “arborist” can vary widely. 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.
Homeowners searching for qualified tree care companies should look for:
- Proof of Insurance – Ask for current certificates of liability and workers’ compensation insurance, if applicable. If the tree company you hire doesn’t have insurance or is not a legal company, you, the homeowner, could be held responsible as a contractor.
- Good References – Ask for local references, and check the quality of their work and level of service. Don’t feel rushed by a bargain and never pay in advance.
- Solid Reputation – Verify professional affiliations the company might have, such as memberships in business organizations.
- Comparisons – Get a second opinion and quote. Always get estimates in writing.
- Up-to-Date Knowledge – Ask if they follow ANSI standards. A professional arborist will be aware of the current safety, pruning, fertilizing and cabling standards.
- Contract – Insist on a signed contract as to cost, dates, when work is to be performed and exactly what is to be done.
There are also inherent dangers for one attempting tree care or removal – pruning limbs, felling trees and especially climbing into trees are hazardous activities even for trained professionals. For safe and efficient work, hire a tree care professional with experience, expertise and equipment to safely take down or prune damaged trees.