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Monday, August 5, 2013

Top 10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Tree Care Service

by Mark Chisholm, certified arborist


When it comes to tree care, some jobs are too big and too dangerous, or just need professional expertise to keep the tree healthy. My rule of thumb: unless you can work with both feet on terra firma, you should hire a professional tree service. Working at height requires proper training and protection due to a number of risky variables like electrical wires, wildlife and nearby fences, buildings or homes. Of course, hiring a tree service comes with its own set of risks. To get your money’s worth and protect your interests, you need to ask your tree care professional these important questions and make sure you understand and agree with their answers.

1) Will they provide an up-to-date certificate of insurance and copy of their work contract? This should be your first and most important question. You want to ensure they are properly insured and that you will not be liable for damage, accidents or injuries.

2) What are their credentials? Try to hire a company with an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborist, a Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) Accredited Business or one employing a Certified Tree Care Safety Professional (CTSP). And if they will be working in proximity to electrical conductors, they will need to be Approved Line-Clearance Arborists.

3) Can they provide a list of references? Any quality company will be happy to share a list of satisfied customers. Ask for customers that they have done work for in the past month or so; you don’t want ancient history.

4) Will they give you a detailed estimate? Get written estimates from three equal companies to compare prices and understand the scope of the job, which leads into the next question.

5) How will the job be approached and what equipment will they use? You don’t want massive outdoor power equipment driving over your lawn and flowerbeds causing collateral damage unnecessarily. If they are going across your lawn, make sure they know the locations of sprinkler heads or other objects that may be damaged. What is their policy if they do damage something and make sure it is acceptable to you and that you have it in writing. It may be a good idea to photograph the area they will be working in just before work starts, so you have a record in case there is damage. Make sure you understand how they will clean up during and after the job.

6) How long will the project take? This is where getting an estimate is handy. One company might say three days while another says three hours.

7) Do they look like a professional company? What does their truck look like, is it well taken
care of and have the look of a reputable company? If they don’t take care of their equipment, do you think they will take care of your tree and property? Do they have a website? Design and content can give you a sense of their professionalism, as can the appearance of the vehicles they use on jobs. Is the truck clean and in good shape? That can give you an idea of how they run their business.

8) Do they use spikes to climb trees while pruning? Unless you’re removing the trees, demand they not use spikes, which causes unhealthy wounds.

9) Do they advertise “topping” (removing live sections from the top of the tree)? This is another poor practice, particularly for large, healthy hardwood trees and would indicate that you should continue your search.

10) Will the crew be using hardhats and other personal protective equipment while on your
property? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that personal protective equipment be used for any tree care operation. A reputable tree care service will want their workers protected.

It’s important to protect yourself and your property by hiring a tree care professional for dangerous jobs; it’s equally important to protect yourself and your “tree investment” by asking these ten important questions. For more information, including resources to help you find a tree care service, visit http://www.treesaregood.org/  or http://www.treecaretips.org/.

***
About Mark Chisholm

One part acrobat, one part expert rope climber, one part tree physiologist, and several parts competitor and thrill seeker, Chisholm is a third-generation arborist with his family-owned Aspen Tree Expert Company in New Jersey. His expertise in tree care has made him a sought after consultant and industry spokesperson for the world of arboriculture, and he regularly travels the globe to consult with international arborist associations.

Chisholm has won every International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) New Jersey Chapter Tree Climbing Championship for the last 19 years and has conquered the wider tree-climbing world on multiple occasions.

56 comments:

  1. I agree with everything stated above apart from the condition of the truck. During the winter months the days are short, the roads are salted and everything gets filthy in five minutes of driving. Don't judge me by the cleanliness/presentation of my truck - its not realistic. If I had time to keep it clean then I would be doing something very wrong. Judge me by my personal presentation, qualifications and references instead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree 100% with your statement. We have older trucks that don't match and aren't even painted with our company colors. We climb all our trees so we don't need pretty vehicles. That's not what matters. What matters is that we're insured, qualified and work hard, quickly and safely to leave the property looking better than we left it.

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    2. FYI - If you're in Fox Valley area in Wisconsin, we are a well known company for the care and focus we give your tree work. Jason's Tree Service - (920)740-9790. We climb all trees for tree trimming, removal, stump grinding, emergency storm damage, etc. Don't attempt to do it yourself. We have heard of way too many people who have and ended up in the hospital. We have been doing this for 6 years now and have climbed and see everything. There isn't a tree we haven't been able to climb yet! :)

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. This is a very helpful post. I always have trouble hiring tree care services. I think this time I might have to follow your recommendations. They need to have credentials. Like if they are ISA certified etc.


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  4. I trust tree services like tree lopping in Perth because the result of their work is really good and the health of the tree is in good condition. I’ve tried other tree services before but the result was not good and I almost lost some of my trees. The questions that you’ve cited are good reminders for people who are planning to call a company for tree service.

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  5. Alejandro, thanks for the comment. We often find recommendations like yours are important to helping others select the right company for their tree needs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is Mark Chisholm on Twitter or Facebook? I would like to follow him and learn more :)

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    2. Lynds. You can find Mark on www.treebuzz.com

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  6. Making sure they don't leave too much debris like dead leaves and bark lying around. Those can easily find their way into the plumbing and block pipes, which would probably then cause you to call in the professional drain cleaners.

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  7. This article is very good & informative.I have gain so much information from this blog.I like your blog.Thanks for the post.

    ReplyDelete
  8. #1and#2 are in ? they don't make a good tree co you sound like our government. I know people that went to school and don't know 1/3 of what I do. how loung have you been doing it is a better? inc is for them people also I have had it for ten years and never used it seams like a wast of money to me.

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    Replies
    1. You sound like part of the problem with this industry. If you don't have number one you will have great prices. And if you dont have an extra $250,000 laying around if one of your employees gets injured, in even a traffic accident badly, you don't care about your employee and probably not your customer. As for number two, my dog could pass the ISA test from simply seeing good trade practice, good on the job training and a little studing. If you can't pass the test you don't care about what you do, are mostly likely a victum of years of bad trade practice, and failure to advance in the industry. I also suggest spell check.

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  9. Then it sounds like I'll be needing to hire a tree service in Calgary. I've got a few tall trees that have been really unhealthy for some reason lately.

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  10. I own a tree service . ive found over the years that there are two types of tree people. those that can sell. and those that can do. ive watched time and time again that the companies that play the part and and look the part, are not the part and leave a wake of unhappy customers . frankly there in it for the wrong reasons. bbb will cover your tracks as long as you pay every year. I think the best place to go is angies list. use commen sence and your gut. word of mouth is a great way to learn of good companies.

    ReplyDelete
  11. @ Lynds Schumacher Why would you want to work quickly? the tree business is very dangerous and needs to be taken very seriously, i do not understand why you would want to work quickly?

    Also well written article. I see a lot of fly by night companies here in Iowa, not wearing protective gear and no hard hats. I wish OSHA would shut them down!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Tree Pruning

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  13. We need to get some tree service for our apple tree in the front yard. It has been dying because of the heat. I've been trying to do better with taking care of it. I hope the fertilizer will help the ground stay moist. http://www.arbormantreecare.ca

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wood chips under the tree will help the moisture stay in the ground longer. For best coverage look at the limbs on the tree and place the chips a few inches deep and out as for as the branches reach. This will lessen how often you have you need to water, also works great in gardens as well!!!

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  14. I've always wondered about how tree service people are certified. Ever few years I have a tree problem in my yard that needs some expert attention. It may do well to make sure that these people are credentialed appropriately. If not, it could really cost me.
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    ReplyDelete
  15. I agree that it is always important to ask about a company's credentials before hiring. Cutting down a tree can be quite dangerous, and you have to make sure that they aren't going to damage your property in the process. We have a couple of big trees that have been dropping a lot of branches in the past couple of years. We're going to have to get at least two of them removed in the next year. http://www.landmtreeservice.com/

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  16. I didn't realize that someone having a license was important. In fact, I was not even aware that they needed a license or certification. However, that does make sense. It would be very logical to do a job like this without having the proper safety precautions. After all, this kind of work can be quite dangerous. http://www.hitreetrimming.com/services

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  17. I really like this set of questions. I had no idea how to narrow down the list of all the tree services down to the one that I actually wanted to hire. I particularly like the question about whether or not they're insured and what type of equipment they'll use. If they're insured and they use high-quality equipment, I'd be willing to bet they'll do quality tree servicing. http://www.treeservicessarasota.com

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  18. These are all great things to ask, especially if you want to stay away from scams. I think one of the more crucial ones to ask would be your first question about their certificate of insurance. Lots of people tend to forget about the credentials of hiring a service. I'm in the market right now for getting a tree stump removed from my lawn. I wanted to make sure I ask all the right questions to whoever helps me. http://www.meadtree.com/services/tree-care.php

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  19. Hiring a someone to come and take care of your trees is very important. You want to make sure they are the best around and that they will do the job right. I think that it is important to do your research so that you find the right people to do the job. You need to look at their reviews to see what other people say about them. http://www.stritartreeservices.com/

    ReplyDelete
  20. I don't think that I would have thought to ask any of these questions. We have a couple of trees in our backyard that we've been meaning to get removed. I agree that safety is always a necesity. http://www.stritartreeservices.com/

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  21. I agree that, before hiring a tree care company, you should ask for a detailed estimate. Asking about how long they expect the project will take is also a good idea. Having a budget isn't going to do you much good if they take far too long to actually finish the job. You want to be sure that the work will be done, and that it's affordable for you.
    http://www.treesafe.com.au/tree-services

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  22. I love how your fourth tip tied into the fifth tip of making sure the company doesn't use heavy equipment to ruin your other landscaping ventures. If the tree removal guys can get a tree removed without any damage to my grass, I'd be very satisfied. Don't they park their truck that grinds the tree trunks on the side of the street so that they don't have to injure your grass? We'll be sure to look into all of these insightful details when we get our two trees removed. Thanks!
    http://www.arborforce.com.au/tree-services/tree-removal/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Felicity, you are welcome. We are glad you found this helpful. The other thing to consider is that parking under a tree compresses the soil around the roots, basically cutting off oxygen and nutrient flow. Along with any oils or other fluids that may leak down, it is just a bad practice.

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  23. I think you've made some truly interesting points. Nice post.
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  24. Wow, I completely never thought about this. I didn't even know there were certifications for tree services. And time is another important factor. I've only ever looked at price, and then the project takes twice as long as I think it ought to. http://www.bhaneyandsons.com/services/

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  25. Very nice and useful information you have shared over here, I got it very well and will take care of it while taking tree services.


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  26. I love the advice in tip #5. Knowing the company's clean up policy is a potential headache saver. I've been in too many situations where work has been done and then left without cleanup and I've definitely gotten into the habit of asking beforehand, just so I can prepare for what will follow. And in addition, the advice to find out their policy on how they'll deal with damages is a golden one. Thankfully I've never had anything damaged by a company before, but it's a good practice to ask about that as well. http://www.darrelemelstreeservice.com/Services/

    ReplyDelete
  27. Your blog is really fantastic blog. Your all information is very helpful for us. You share lot of information about top 10 questions to ask when hiring a tree care service. Now I have important question Do you know about writing companies reviews ? It is really very important to know about it. Thank you so much.

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  31. This has some great tips when hiring a tree care company. I really like the one about asking how long the project will take. There's nothing worse than thinking a project will take shorter than it actually does. I'll keep this in mind, as I have some of the trees in my yard removed, thanks! http://www.hodgsontreeservice.com/services.html

    ReplyDelete
  32. This is some really great information for anyone looking into hiring a tree service. These are some really important things to ask, and to make sure that they're doing before you hire them to care for or remove a tree on your property. It's important to make sure that the workers are going to be safe, and that you aren't going to be liable for any injuries that may occur. Thanks so much for writing!
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  33. Total Bullshit.
    A) I have a list of satisfied customers a mile long.
    B) I'm not buying some kind of crap liability insurance that cost $1100 annually and has a $1000 deductible when it costs $500 for a shingle roof repair with matched shingles.
    C) OSHA is fining people $3500 for cranking a chainsaw up in a tree.
    D) ISA lost me at "collar cuts" and "Cambium-layer micro-injections."
    I'm sure I could do a study to show the superiority of deep-root fertiliazation vs. Cambium-layer micro-injections but..

    The only thing I agree with is "Don't spike a tree or branch unless it's being removed.

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  34. I think mimicking popular posts on other blogs is one of the best ways to get a good idea which will be popular.Such a lovely blog you have shared here with us. Really nice.
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  35. I've been in the tree business for around 8 years I am a certified bucket operater and line clearance certified.I agree that anyone can run a chainsaw. My brother and I have been doing jobs together and we have already got many more lined up thanks to our happy customers. We usually get jobs offered to us before we are finished with the one we're on. We are both line clearance certified and both climb also

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  36. I've been in the tree business for around 8 years I am a certified bucket operater and line clearance certified.I agree that anyone can run a chainsaw. My brother and I have been doing jobs together and we have already got many more lined up thanks to our happy customers. We usually get jobs offered to us before we are finished with the one we're on. We are both line clearance certified and both climb also

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  37. This is some really great information for anyone looking into hiring a tree service. These are some really important things to ask, and to make sure that they're doing before you hire them to care for or remove a tree on your property. It's important to make sure that the workers are going to be safe, and that you aren't going to be liable for any injuries that may occur. Thanks so much for writing!
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