By Jesse Batty
If your car breaks down, you take it to a mechanic. If your dog gets sick, you take your dog to the vet. If you break your leg, you don’t think twice about going to the doctor.
Well, the same thing applies to trees and arborists. Just like with your mechanic or doctor, ideally you’ll build a rapport or relationship with your arborist so you know who to call before you need the arborist. After all, trees provide numerous benefits and are an investment you want to protect.
What to ask when hiring an arborist?
1) Check for International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certification. This means the arborist has passed an extensive exam on all aspects of tree care.
2) Check for membership in professional organizations, such as ISA, Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), or American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA). This shows a willingness on the arborist’s part to stay up-to-date on the latest techniques and advances in tree care.
3) Make sure the arborist is insured and bonded, and feel free to ask for proof of insurance. Most arborists carry personal and property damage insurance as well as workers compensation insurance. As the paying customer, you don’t want to be held responsible.
4) Check with the city to see if your job requires a permit or license.
5) Ask for references. You wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive. Remember, tree care is a long-lasting, substantial investment.
6) Get more than one estimate. Ideally you’ll get three.
7) Don’t always accept the low bid. Instead, get the best combination of work, price, skill and professionalism.
8) Don’t accept door-to-door solicitations for tree work as most reputable companies are too busy to solicit in this manner.
9) Keep in mind that good arborists perform only industry-accepted practices. It’s rarely appropriate to top a tree, use spikes, or remove live trees. Ask if the arborist will be adhering to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards.
10) Make sure it’s in writing. Sign a contract for the work to be done. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Finally, be an informed consumer. Do a little research on tree care. Feel free to contact the city arborist, extension agents, or garden centers for information. For a list of certified arborists in the Portland-Vancouver metro area, please visit Friends of Trees’ web site. You can find more information on how to hire an arborist at TreesAreGood.com.
–Batty, an ISA-Certified Arborist, is Neighborhood Trees Specialist for Friends of Trees.