Tips for hiring a good arborist:
- Hire a tree firm that is bonded, licensed and insured. Some states require registration by tree service companies, but that is not a guarantee of quality. In addition, some communities require that arborists be licensed by the local jurisdiction in order to work within City limits. If you are unsure of your community’s requirements, contact the City offices to see if such a license is required.
- Ask for ISA Certified Arborist credentials. ISA certification indicates that an individual has passed the ISA’s extensive examination that covers all aspects of tree care and maintenance.
- Current membership in professional organizations such the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), or the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA) demonstrates a professionalism and commitment to quality by the arborist, as well as a dedication to keeping up-to-date on research related to trees and tree care.
- Ask for references and check them! Select a company or individual that you are comfortable with that has demonstrated good pruning and ethical work practices. Remember that you are hiring a “doctor” for “preventive care” for your trees; take the time to make the decision as thoughtfully as you would for your own health care.
- Get bids or estimates from more than one tree care firm. Examine the credentials of the firm and the staff who do the work, as well as the written specifications of the submitted bids, to determine the best combination of cost, scope of work, skill and professionalism. Your investment in your trees rests in the hands of the tree care company; make sure that the arborist or firm hired is knowledgeable and reputable.
- Don’t rush into a decision just because you are promised a discount if you sign an agreement now. Be sure you understand the work that is to be done and the cost of the services. It is not generally a good idea to pay in full before the work is done, and reputable arborists will rarely ask for payment up front.
- A good arborist will rarely recommend topping a tree or other drastic pruning practices that are injurious to trees. A reputable arborist will typically bring a variety of preferred options to your attention if you request such procedures. Avoid any firm or individual who advertises tree topping or view clearing or suggests such practices.
- NEVER allow a tree worker to climb your trees using spikes or spurs. Tree-climbing spikes or spurs open deep wounds into the tree that provide a pathway for disease and insects to invade the heartwood of the tree, potentially weakening or killing the tree.
- Beware of door-knockers, flyers or cold calls. Reputable firms rarely need to acquire work in this fashion. Remember that you are hiring a health care practitioner for your trees; would you hire a dentist that called you out of the blue? Or a surgeon who left a flyer on your windshield? The same attention to hiring a knowledgeable, reputable tree service will ensure that your trees will have the help they need to remain safe, sound, and beautiful over a long, healthy lifetime. Improper tree care and pruning can, in some instances, cause damage that can never be corrected, possibly causing a tree to become hazardous or even die.
- Good tree work is not inexpensive. A good arborist must carry several kinds of insurance as well as pay for expensive and specialized equipment. Beware of estimates that fall well below the average; there may be hidden costs or the arborist may not be fully insured, licensed or trained.
The PNW-ISA maintains a For Hire ISA Certified Arborist Directory of ISA Certified Arborists that serve British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Idaho. We are happy to assist you in locating an ISA Certified Arborist in these areas in order to provide your trees with the best possible care to ensure a long, healthy, beautiful life. The searchable database also allows you to locate consultants and practitioners with specialized skills such as hazard tree evaluation, tree health assessment, and specialty pruning practices, as well as confirm the certification credentials of firms and individuals. Put a professional to work for you and your trees!