Proper planting, pruning and care of a new or established tree should give you a strong and healthy tree for many years. Improper tree care, however, can drastically shorten the life of a tree and wastes the time and money you invested in raising it to maturity.
Tree care or maintenance is often best done by a qualified professional. Reputable companies will perform tree work properly and safely. An unqualified person, hoever, may not only further damage your tree, they may also not be insured, leaving you with a potential liability.
If you do decide to hire a professional to help with tree care, here are some tips for hiring or contracting with an arborist or tree care service:
- Most reputable tree care companies have all the work they can handle without going door to door. People who aren't competent arborists may solicit tree work after storms, seeing an opportunity to earn quick money. Storm damage creates high risk situations for both workers and property.
- Good tree maintenance professionals 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 tree care professional may not be fully insured or trained.
- Check your yellow pages or business directory under "Tree Service" for a listing of tree care businesses that do tree work in your area. While anyone can list themselves in the phone book, a listing usually indicates at least some degree of permanence.
- Be cautious of any tree care professional that advertises tree topping as a service. Topping is not an approved tree maintenance practice.
- Ask for proof of insurance, including liability for personal and property damage. Remember, you could be held financially responsible if an uninsured worker is hurt on your property or if the worker damages a neighbor's property.
- Ask for local references. Take a look at some of the work, and if possible, talk with former clients. Experience, education and a good reputation are signs of a good professional.
- Don't rush into a decision just because you are promised a discount if you sign quickly. Understand what work is to be done and how much it will cost. Don’t pay in full until the work is completed.
- Ask if the tree care company is certified by the International Society of Arboriculture, and/or your local Arborists Association.