Thursday, March 18, 2010

Out on a Limb...Selecting an Arborist

We have been lucky this year (knock on wood—pun intended) and not had damaging ice storms. That does not mean your trees won’t need some care in spring. Poorly maintained trees can be a significant liability and arborists provide pruning, removal, emergency tree care, planting and healthcare such as fertilization and insect control.

How do you select an arborist?

Check for membership and certification in professional organizations such as the International Society of Arboriculture, the Tree Care Industry Association, or the American Society of Consulting Arborists.

  • Ask for proof of insurance (don’t hesitate to call the insurance company if you feel uncertain) as a reputable arborist carries personal and property damage insurance as well as worker’s compensation.
  • Check for permits and licenses.
  • Ask for references. Pay attention to the companies your neighbors are using and ask them about the arborist. Make sure they are an established business in the community with a listing in the phone book.
  • Get more than one estimate. Don’t always go with the low bid. Consider the combination of professionalism, skill, work to be done and price. Avoid individuals who go door to door and offer bargains (We had a personal experience of having someone prune who did not clean their chainsaws after cutting down a diseased oak and it spread the disease to our oaks.)
  • Remember your trees are a valuable investment so don’t hesitate to ask questions such as
    • Who will be responsible for clean up?
    • Does work include stump removal?
    • Is this the total price or is there an hourly rate if more needs to be done?
    • When will the work start and when will it end

Be an informed customer and educate yourself on some of the basic principles of tree care. Local garden centers and the Kemper Center at Missouri Botanical Garden are wonderful resources.

photo courtsey of Simon Howden

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