Hiring a Tree Care Service

If you are interested in hiring a Tree Care Service, City Arborist, Adrien Lowien Kirian recommends the following considerations before making a deposit:

Can they provide an up-to-date copy of liability insurance?

  • Tree work is dangerous, and risks are high, add in the presence of homes, vehicles, and other possible targets and you could run into big trouble if something goes wrong. You will want a company that is careful and can mitigate any damage that may occur. Having full liability insurance shows that the company is aware of the risks and more likely to work safely to avoid accidents and property damage.

Do you know of their reputation or references?

  • Talk to your friends and neighbors in the area, chances are someone has hired someone to do tree work for them. Ask questions: Did they do a satisfactory job; Did they take safety precautions; Did they clean up the area afterwards, or did they leave ruts in the yard? 
    If you’re new to the area and don’t know your neighbors, ask companies for references. Can they tell you or show you jobs they have done nearby; how does it look? 
    Use technology, and check online reviews. You may get to look at reviews from third-party sites rather than the company’s website. There are many similar business names in the tree care industry. If you are looking one up, make sure it’s a local company, there may be another one in another region or state. Most companies will have a service area listed.

Get multiple quotes.

  • Price doesn’t necessarily dictate quality. Talking to multiple companies will also give you a sense of the knowledge between companies.  Make sure each quote is detailed and in writing. Also, make sure each company is quoting the same thing, (For example, one company may quote a tree removal, including stump grinding and clean up, and another company may come with a cheaper quote but doesn’t mention stump grinding or clean up. If you go with the cheaper price, you may be left with a mess and a stump to deal with.)

Are they Professional?

  • Aspects of the company’s equipment, appearance, and promotional materials can give you an idea of their professionalism. Details such as how well they care for their trucks and equipment could give you an idea of how well they’re going to take care of your tree and your yard. What information about the business is available on their website or print materials, such as business cards or fliers? Do they share information about their background, training, certifications, services offered or any other important information?

Is the company taking proper safety precautions?

  • As stated previously, tree work is dangerous, it is important that companies prioritize their workers’ safety, and is indicative of their professionalism. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) both have safety standards that should be followed. The use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such hard hats, and chainsaw chaps are easy to spot.

Does the company hold any Industry Certifications or Licensure?

  •  While there is no license to do tree work, there are certifications available that demonstrate knowledge and professional practices. Individuals with an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist credential have demonstrated that they are experienced in arboriculture, are knowledgeable about industry standards and best practices, and abide by a code of ethics. The certification also requires continuing education to ensure that credential holders stay up to date on best practices, methods, and information. Additional credentials are available through ISA that demonstrate mastery in particular areas within the industry, such as climbing, Tree Risk Assessments, and other areas. If you are wanting a tree inspected for safety concerns, you will want an ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualified (TRAQ) Certified Arborist. Another accrediting agency is the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). TCIA offers training, education, and a credentialing program. 
    If you are having any pesticide treatment, such as insecticide or fungicide, applied to your trees by a professional, they need to have a Commercial Pesticide Applicator’s License issued through the Ohio Department of Agriculture. 

Do they follow Best Method Practices?

  • Some tree care practices once standard have been found to be detrimental to tree health. Some of these include tree “topping,” the act of blunt cuts to remove large portions of the canopy. This practice does not allow for proper wound closure, accelerating decay, and large branch failure. Topping also accelerates the growth of weakly attached limbs, causing recurrent small-branch failure.
    Using spikes while climbing is also an antiquated practice, causing unnecessary wounds that can lead to wood decay and vectors for disease and fungus.
    Also be wary of unusual practices, such as “Cleaning” or pressure washing trees, which are harmful to trees. While some might find the presence of moss and lichen on their tree unsightly, they are very rarely harmful.
    In addition to safety standards, ANSI also provides standards for proper pruning and tree care practices.

 If you are interested in finding an ISA Certified Arborist visit Trees Are Good and use the Find and Arborist tool.

The City of Bowling Green requires a solicitor’s license for any soliciting individual and is required to show identification when asked. If someone is knocking on your door soliciting tree work, be diligent in checking out their background and the services they are offering. Please report suspicious solicitors to the Bowling Green Police Department non-emergency line (419) 352-1131.