Hiring a Certified Arborist

Q. What is a Certified Arborist?
A. An arborist by definition is an individual who is trained in the art and science of planting, caring for and maintaining individual trees. ISA Arborist Certification is a non-governmental, voluntary process by which individuals can document their base of knowledge. It operates without mandate of law and is an internal, self-regulating device administered by the International Society of Arboriculture. Certification provides a measurable assessment of an individual’s knowledge and competence required to provide proper tree care.

Certification is not a measure of standards of practice. Certification can attest to the tree knowledge of an individual, but cannot guarantee or assure quality performance.

Certified arborists are individual’s who have achieved a level of knowledge in the art and science of tree care through at least three years experience and have passed a comprehensive examination developed by some of the nation’s leading experts on tree care.

Certified arborists must also continue their education to maintain their certification. Therefore, they should be up-to-date ion the latest techniques in arboriculture.

Q. Why Hire an Arborist?
A. An arborist should be insured for your protection. Most homeowners policies do not cover uninsured contractors. An arborist is a specialist in the care of individual trees. Arborists are knowledgeable and equipped to provide proper care. Hiring an arborist is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Proper tree care is an investment which 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 only be done by those trained and equipped to work safely.

Q. How do I select the right arborist for the job?
A. There are a variety of things to consider when selecting an arborist:

  • Membership in professional organizations such as the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) the National Arborist  Associations (NAA) 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.
  • Look for those arborists who advertise as an 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. A reputable arborist will have personal and property damage insurance as well as workers compensation insurance. Many homeowners have had to pay out large sums of money for damage caused by an uninsured individual claiming to be a tree expert. You could be held responsible for damage and inquires that occur as a result of the job.
  • 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 worksites where the company or individual had done tree work. Remember, tree care is a substantial, long-lasting investment.
  • Unless you know and are comfortable with the arborist, get more than one estimate. You may have to pay for the estimates, and it will take more time, but it will be worth the investment.
  • 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 never corrects itself. 
  • Good arborists will only perform accepted practices. For example, practices such as topping a tree, removing an excessive amount of live wood, using climbing spikes on trees which are not being removed, and removing or disfiguring living trees without just cause, are unnecessary.
  • Don’t always accept the low bid. You should examine the credentials and the written specification of the firms who submitted bids and determine the best combination of price work to be done, skill and professionalism to protect your substantial investment.

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