Arborists should be your first and last call when it comes to dealing with tree problems. They work in all areas of the tree industry. They work for private residents, councils, governments and organizations. They assess trees, prune trees, plant trees and remove trees. They provide expert insight on the condition of trees, recommendations for ways to preserve their health and assistance in mitigating the hazards of trees.
You absolutely need a certified, professional arborist to assess the condition of your trees, maintain their health and remove them when necessary. Only an arborist should be trusted to perform these services as they have the necessary skills, qualifications, insurance and experience to do so accurately and safely.
For health assessments, it is possible that untrained, uncertified tree workers may not notice important signs of deterioration in a tree. This sort of mistake can lead to incorrect assessments that result in trees being removed that shouldn’t or dangerous trees left standing.
When it comes to the pruning and removal of trees, only tree surgeons should be in charge of this dangerous work. Climbing, cutting and extracting any tree, especially a large mature tree, is highly hazardous and can put people, animals and property at risk.
You need a professional arborist because they keep you, your community and the environment are safer.
5 Things To Ask When Hiring An Arborist
Arborist climbing tree doing pruning work with harness and safety equipment
When hiring an arborist or tree care company to do work on your property, there are several important questions to ask them. You want to be sure that the arborists are properly certified, insured, and using best practices methods for tree pruning — or your trees and your property could suffer as a result.
Are They Fully Insured And Certified?
It is critical to hire a reputable tree care business that is fully insured. Tree care can be dangerous work, and you want to make sure that the company you hire carries liability insurance in case of injury or damaged property.
Workplace safety insurance (WSIB) is another type of insurance that will protect workers on the job. A good employer or business owner will want to take care of their employees just as much as their clients and will carry WSIB coverage.
Many people may not know that WSIB is NOT mandatory for a professional tree care business in Ontario and that arboriculture is a relatively unregulated industry in our province. There are a few college programs in Ontario that teach arboriculture, but anyone can start a tree care service with no training at all.
The ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) is one of the certifying bodies that require arborists to keep updating their knowledge base. A certified arborist will have current ISA training and in-depth information about safety procedures and tree care techniques that will benefit you and your trees. Remember to ask about these certifications!
What Is Their Experience In The Field?
When you start working with an arborist, you should ask them the following questions:
How many years have you been practising tree care?
Who did you learn your skills from?
Where & when did you receive your certifications or latest training?
Two arborists sweeping in the backyard after tree care job
Just because someone owns a tree service doesn’t mean they are using best practices. The industry is always evolving, and a good tree service will be up to date with new methods.
It is so important that the arborist you hire has the experience to do the job you have hired them to do. Tree removals are relatively straightforward and, as long as you don’t damage property or injure someone, it’s hard to judge the skill level of the arborist after this type of job. The tree is gone, leaving no evidence behind.
With pruning, however, the evidence remains present. Bad pruning is clear and noticeable by the trained eye. It takes a lot of training, plus years of experience, to be good at pruning trees properly.
If an arborist has never worked for another, more experienced company, they may not even realize that they are pruning trees incorrectly. Arborists who have apprenticed for reputable companies in the past will have a good skill set that sets them apart from someone who just started their own business right out of school.
What Is Their Reputation In The Local Community?
When hiring a contractor, you want someone with a good reputation and, with the Internet, it is easier than ever to find reviews. Try to also ask people that you trust about who they use in the community. Ask your friends, ask your neighbours.
Find out if the tree care company is active with volunteering in their community. A good tree care business will be well known to its community due to the nature of its work. Remember that you want to know what kind of service the arborist provided — do not just hire someone that your friend or family member knows.
Make sure that they have experience with the type of work that you need for your property. Again, removals and pruning are two different skill sets. A tree service may be able to remove a tree quickly, but that does not mean they will be able to properly prune your mature tree.
What Kind Of Equipment Does The Business Use?
The two most commonly used methods of working in trees are using an aerial lift or climbing the tree with ropes and harnesses. There are certain situations where one method is preferred over the other, but all three work methods have pros and cons.
Aerial lifts have the ability to work in the tree without relying on the tree for safety. This can be beneficial when the tree is structurally unsound or would otherwise pose a hazard to a climber. Aerial lifts are great for removing trees near roads and with easy access. If a bucket truck doesn’t fit into your backyard, a spider lifts can be used as a smaller alternative.
One issue with aerial lifts is that they can sometimes be difficult to maneuver in a thick tree crown. Some pruning techniques can be harder to do properly with the bulky lift equipment.
Arborist climbing tree doing pruning work with harness and safety equipment
CLIMBING A TREE WITH ROPES, HARNESSES, AND OTHER SAFETY EQUIPMENT.
Climbing arborists can get into a tree with no heavy equipment. This is a great option for backyards and other situations where access is difficult, space is tight, or where heavy equipment may damage an underground system like a septic tank or drainage bed.
Climbing a tree gives the arborist a different perspective of the tree. When an arborist climbs a tree, they are able to spot defects and other issues within the crown up close.
When pruning, a climbing arborist is able to shape the tree from within and access places that might be difficult to reach with a bucket. Proper pruning cuts may be harder to achieve from a bucket truck in certain situations.
A NOTE ABOUT LADDERS
Ladders are another method of accessing a tree but should be used with extreme caution. Orchard ladders are among the safest ladders for tree pruning, but they should only be used in small trees. If a tree service uses extension ladders as their main way to access the tree, be cautious— this is typically frowned upon within the industry.
What Is Clean-up Included In Their Pricing?
Arborist cleaning the sidewalk after tree care job clean-up is something that you want to clarify before making an arrangement with a tree care company. You want to make sure that all the material will be taken away and that the property is restored to its previous state (or better). This means raking up twigs, leaves, and sawdust, blowing off driveways and making sure all the material from the tree are removed from the property.
Cleaning up after a tree pruning job or tree removal adds time and cost to the job. The better the clean-up, the more time is spent and the higher the cost. If you don’t mind doing it yourself, you can request no clean-up and save yourself some money. You can save even more money if you keep the wood and/or brush to deal with yourself.
Services That Arborists Can Provide
Arborists specialize in the care of individual trees. They are knowledgeable about the needs of trees and are trained and equipped to provide proper care. Hiring an arborist is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Proper tree care is an investment that can lead to substantial returns. 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 be done only by those trained and equipped to work safely in trees.
An arborist can help homeowners maintain their investment by:
Pruning can be necessary for various reasons including, improvement of health, appearance and safety. An arborist can determine what type of pruning is necessary.
Tree removal can be expensive. Consider hiring an arborist when your tree is dead or dying, an unacceptable risk, causing an obstruction, crowding other trees, or located in an area where there’s new construction.
Emergency tree care
Removing or pruning storm-damaged trees can be dangerous, but a professional arborist can perform the job safely while reducing further risk of damage to people and property.
Getting your new tree off to a healthy start will help the tree mature to its full size and ensures it will provide environmental, economic, and social benefits throughout its lifetime. Some arborists plant trees and most recommend species that are appropriate for certain locations.
Plant health care or preventive maintenance.
Cabling and bracing for added support to branches with weak attachments.
Soil aeration to improve root growth.
How To Make A Tree Healthy Again
6 TREE MAINTENANCE TIPS TO KEEP TREES HEALTHY AND STRONG
- Plant the right tree in the right place. Pick a tree meant for your area, then find a spot that will get enough sun and provide enough space for its full-grown canopy. Before you dig, make sure it’s not too close to power lines, underground utility lines or your home. Finally, don’t plant it too deeply! That’s the number one mistake our Davey arborists see.
- Properly water. Just like any other plant, you need to water trees! If it hasn’t rained for several weeks, check to see if your tree needs a drink. Usually, mature trees need one inch of water a week. New trees require somewhere between 4 to 10 gallons each week during the first growing season or two.
- Mulch. Mulch insulates tree roots, protects them from lawn mower cuts and helps prevent dry soil. Help your tree reap these benefits by removing grass underneath the tree and spreading 2-to-4 inches of mulch. Be careful not to cover the base of the trunk.
- Fertilize. In the forest, natural plant materials feed the soil around trees. But in our yards, we rake and remove all those natural nutrients, like leaves and grass clippings. Fertilizer solves that problem. Apply a slow-release fertilizer regularly to release nutrients into the soil. Also, test your soil periodically to see if any elements are missing or in short supply.
- Prune. Proper trimming improves trees’ structure while also removing any deadwood holding them back. Do major pruning when the tree is dormant and doesn’t have any leaves (if possible). Then, in summer, focus on tidying up and clearing out small, dead or damaged twigs.
- Book checkups. Scheduling your annual checkup? Make an appointment for your tree, too! Spotting signs of pests or diseases early can make all the difference. ISA Certified Arborists® look for red flags like discolored leaves, cankers, holes, and more. Then, they provide a plan of action on how to help.