Finding An Arborist
An arborist is a specialist who is trained in the art and science of planting, caring for, and maintaining individual trees. Arborists are knowledgeable about the needs of trees and are trained and equipped to provide proper care.
Proper tree care is an investment that can lead to substantial returns. Hiring an arborist is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Well cared-for trees are attractive and can add considerable value to your property. Poorly maintained trees can be a significant liability. Pruning or removing trees, especially large trees, can be dangerous work. Tree work should only be done by those trained and equipped to work safely in trees.
What Is a Certified Arborist?
Certified arborists are individuals who have passed a comprehensive examination developed by some of the nation's leading experts on tree care.
Certification provides a measurable assessment of an individual's knowledge and competence required to provide proper tree care. Certified arborists must also continue their education to maintain their certification. Therefore, they should be up-to-date on the latest techniques in arboriculture.
Certification is not a measure of standards of practice. Certification can attest to the tree knowledge of an individual but cannot guarantee or ensure quality performance.
Learn more from the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture
Services That Arborists Can Provide
Pruning- The arborist can determine what type of pruning is necessary to maintain or improve the health, appearance, and safety of trees. These techniques include:
- Eliminating branches that rub each other.
- Removing limbs that interfere with wires, building facades, gutters, roofs, chimneys, windows, or that obstruct streets or sidewalks.
- Removing dead or weak limbs that pose a hazard or may lead to decay.
- Removing diseased or insect-infested limbs.
- Creating better structure to lessen wind resistance and reduce the potential for storm damage.
- Training young trees.
- Removing limbs damaged by adverse weather conditions.
- Thinning or removal of branches to increase light penetration.
- Improving the shape or silhouette of the tree.
Removal - Although tree removal is a last resort, there are circumstances when it is necessary. An arborist can help decide whether or not a tree should be removed. Arborists have the skills and equipment to safely and efficiently remove trees. Removal is recommended when the tree:
- Is dead or dying.
- Is considered irreparably hazardous.
- Is causing an obstruction that is impossible to correct through pruning.
- Is crowding and causing harm to other trees.
- Is to be replaced by a more suitable specimen.
- Should be removed to allow for new construction.
Emergency Tree Care - Storms may cause limbs or entire trees to fall, often landing on homes, cars, other structures, or other trees. The weight of storm-damaged trees is great, and they can be very dangerous to remove or trim. An arborist can assist in performing the job in a safe manner, while reducing further risk of damage to your property.
Planting - Some arborists plant trees and most can recommend what types of trees are appropriate for a specific location. The wrong tree in the wrong location could lead to future problems due to limited growing space, insects, diseases, or poor growth.
Other Services - Many arborists also provide a variety of other tree care services including:
- Practicing Plant Health Care; a concept of preventive maintenance to keep trees in good health, which will help the tree better defend itself against insects, disease, and site problems.
- Cabling or bracing for added support to branches with weak attachment.
- Aeration to improve root growth.
- Installation of lightning protection systems.
- Spraying or injecting to control certain insect and disease problems.
Selecting the Right Arborist for the Job
There are a variety of things to consider when selecting an arborist including:
- Membership in professional organizations- such as the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), the Tree Care Industry Association, or the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA)-demonstrates a willingness on the part of the arborist to stay up-to date on the latest techniques and information.
- Check in the phone directory yellow pages for those arborists who advertise as ISA Certified Arborists or display the official logo of the ISA Certified Arborist. Certified arborists are experienced professionals who have passed an extensive examination covering all aspects of tree care.
- Ask for proof of insurance and then phone the insurance company if you are not satisfied.
- Some government agencies require contractors to apply for permits and/or to apply for a license before they are able to work. Be sure they comply with any local, state, provincial, or national law that governs their work.
- Ask for references to find out where the company has done work similar to the work you are requesting. Don't hesitate to check references or visit other work sites where the company or individual has done tree work.
- Unless you know and are comfortable with the arborist, get more than one estimate.
- Be wary of individuals who go door-to-door and offer bargains for performing tree work. Most reputable companies are too occupied to solicit work in this manner. Improper tree care can take many years to correct itself, and in some cases, it can never be corrected.
- Good arborists will only perform accepted practices. Examples of unnecessary practices are: topping a tree, removing an excessive amount of live wood, using climbing spikes on trees that are not being removed, and removing or disfiguring living trees without just cause.
- Don't always accept the low bid.
- Get it in writing. Most reputable arborists will have their clients sign a contract. Be sure to read the contract carefully.
Need more information?
- National Arborist Association
- The Mid Atlantic Chapter of the International Society of Arborist has a website for certified arborist in the area.
- Need help with an urban forest? Visit the Society for Municipal Arborists.
- The American Society of Consulting Arborists website supports people with advanced diagnostic, preservation and arboricultural representational needs.
Last modified 2007-07-12