How to Select an Arborist or Tree Service Company

TreeStewards are often asked by the community for a referral for a good arborist or tree service company to diagnose problems and service trees.  While the TreeStewards do not recommend specific companies, we do provide advice for selecting a good service.

Above all, we recommend contacting a certified arborist working with a bonded and insured tree company.  Here is a step-by-step for selecting and contracting with an arborist:

(1)    Search for an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborist. To find one, put in your zip code and search within 25 miles. Over 100 names will appear. Select several and call or email describing your need. This is especially important if you want to treat your ash trees against Emerald Ash Borer; you want an arborist who has done this work before. http://treesaregood.org/findtreeservices/FindTreeCareService.aspx.

(2)    Schedule meetings at your home with at least two or more certified arborists. Certified arborists carry their license on their person, so don’t hesitate to ask to see it. Ask if a certified arborist will be supervising the actual work, and if not, inquire about the training and experience of the work foreman. Use that knowledge as a factor in your decision.

(3) Reach an agreement on the scope of the work to be performed and obtain a written estimate. Ask for referrals and take time to follow-up and make the calls.  Always get a second opinion.

(4)    When you have selected a tree service, try to schedule the work when you are home and available to meet with the crew prior to the start of the work. Talk with the arborist or the crew chief or foreman who will supervise the work.  Be sure to review the scope of the job with the foreman to ensure there are no misunderstandings.  If anything concerns you, insist on speaking with the certified arborist who estimated the job.

You want the best service for your trees.  Reputable firms do not want dissatisfied customers.  Reminder:  Ensure that you obtain written estimates from at least two arborists. Communicate often and well with the company and give them a chance to make corrections if you are not satisfied with the work.  For more information on selecting an arborist, http://www.dof.virginia.gov/manage/arborist.htm

(Adapted from an article originally written by TreeSteward Bill Anhut for the Lyon Park Citizens Association newsletter, November 2009).

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