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Hiring a Tree Service

When it comes to tree care, some jobs are too dangerous, or need professional expertise to keep the tree and yourself healthy.

A general rule is if the work requires you to be off the ground a professional should be hired. Below are some recommendations when hiring a tree service.

Request Up-to-Date Certificate of Insurance
If they cannot provide this, keep looking. They should be properly insured so you will not be liable for damage, accidents or injuries.

Make Sure They are Credentialed
At minimum the tree service you hire should have one Certified Arborist credentialed through the International Society of Arboriculture. This credential requires passing an exam and regularly attending training. It is a good idea to require a Certified Arborist to be onsite when tree work is being completed as well. Other credentials can be gained through the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), including a Certified Tree Care Safety Professional (CTSP).

Get Detailed, Written Price Estimate
It is recommended to get quotes from three companies. Prices can vary significantly depending on current workload, equipment available, etc. Estimates should include the following.

Specify Work Being Performed
Make sure you know exactly what the estimate is for. When removing trees, verify whether stumps are being ground and where the debris is being disposed of. Confirm whether pruning is simply raising the canopy and cutting a few branches, or removing all dead wood greater than an inch.

Industry standards
All tree work should meet ANSI A300 standards. If they are not aware of these it is recommended to find someone else.

Any site impacts
On some sites it is difficult to limit impacts to lawns, flower beds. Make sure both parties know what is expected for impacts and the level clean-up and if applicable show them where sprinkler heads are located.

Timeframe of Completion
Find out if the job will be done in three days or three months, and set deadlines.

Additional Tips
Avoid tree service professionals who:

Recommend topping of trees — This practice is unacceptable in the industry and harmful to trees. It also results in a more dangerous tree due to inevitable decay. 

Don’t wear proper protective equipment — OSHA and ANSI standards require the use of certain safety equipment such as helmets, safety glasses, hearing protection, chainsaw pants, etc. If you do not see these onsite you are likely not dealing with a reputable company.

Solicit door to door — Be wary of anyone going door to door offering tree work, this is common with out-of-town companies.

To find a local Certified Arborist visit treesaregood.org or treecaretips.org.