Archive for July, 2009

Tree Care Costs

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Tree care costs money. Proper care may cost more in the short term, but it saves you money over the long haul because it results in fewer problems ( due to having healthier trees), reduces the number of repeat calls, and protects an investment that can contribute up to 15 % or more of your properties value. Reputable arborists have a significant investment in equipment and training. The price charged for a job reflects all these costs plus a reasonable margin of profit in order to stay in business. Remember that proper tree care, especially pruning, is an art, and the arborists skill and professionalism is more important than a low bid.

This being said, there are still two good ways to save money on tree care:

1. Schedule the work well in advance. Most arborists are busy, and many services must be done at a certain time of the year. By allowing the arborist to schedule your work in advance, and, if possible, when other work is at low ebb, you may be able to arrange a savings on price.

2. If you can get together with several neighbors, who also need tree care work done, you may be able to interest a company in a group discount.

Preventive Care may also be a good investment, and aid in reducing costs over the long term. Some arborists offer inspections of your trees for a flat annual rate. This is an excellent way to have problems diagnosed in time to take corrective action more effectively (and at less cost) instead of waiting until a problem becomes greater and more difficult (and more costly) to deal with in the future. Preventive maintenance is one of the best ways to assure healthy trees on your property.

My father was a truck mechanic for many years, and he often told me that the most expensive thing you can do is to hire someone to work on a vehicle who works “too cheap.” I found this to be good advice for mechanics as well as for other professional tradesmen (plumbers, carpenters, bricklayers, electricians, etc.). One of the least expensive items for any job you need done is the price paid to a competent professional, whether it be for roofing a house or tree care. If you can’t do the work yourself (in a suitable manner), hire a professional. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did.

Selecting An Arborist

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

Hiring a tree care specialist should be done carefully. A mistake can be expensive and long-lasting, but the right choice can assure health, beauty, and longer life for your trees. Here are some tips for selecting an arborist:

1. Check in a phone book. Although anyone can advertise there, a listing indicates some degree of permanence.

2. Beware of door knockers; i.e. people who show up at your door wanting to do some “tree trimming.” If it is after a storm, be especially wary of these “fly by night” operators. They’re just out to make an easy buck, and could care less about you or your trees.

3. Find out if the arborist is certified by the International Society of Arboriculture. If they’re certified, they have a minimum level of professional qualifications to do proper work.

4. Ask for certificates of insurance (particularly liability coverage) and workers compensation.

5. Ask for local references. If they’ve been doing business in the community for a long time, they will have a track record of the type work they do.

6. Never let yourself get rushed into “bargains.” You get what you pay for really applies in the tree care business.

7. Have more than one arborist look at your job. Get bids. Reputable individuals/companies won’t mind doing this.

8. A good arborist will offer a wide range of services.

9. A good arborist will not recommend topping a tree, except under very rare and extenuating circumstances.

10. A good arborist will not use climbing spikes, unless he/she is going to remove the tree completely, and has to do it a piece at a time.

11. Beware of an arborist who is eager to remove a living tree. Removal should be a last resort.

Next time I’ll talk a little about pricing.

So, You Need An Arborist

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

So, you’ve reached a decision that you “might” need an arborist to help with some tree care around the old homestead. To solidify this decision, consider the following illustrations from the National Arbor Day Foundation. It’s a pictorial representation (but which contains a lot of truth) of why you need a competent arborist, if you want your tree(s) to become the long term asset to your property that you seek.


choosing-a-competent-arborist-3choosing-a-competent-arborist-4I think you know which job you prefer. Next time, I’ll talk about a checklist you can use to select a competent arborist.

When Should You Consult An Arborist ?

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

An arborist is a person who makes a career of caring for the urban forest.  Arborists are employed by all kinds of public and private entities, and many are self-employed; offering services ranging from planting and pruning to tree removal and storm damage clean-up. Some arborists only offer consulting services; i.e. advice on such things as damage appraisals, diagnosis of problems, treatment recommendations, and suggestions for finding competent services. Whatever type of services they offer, arborists are professionals concerned primarily with the planting and care of trees.

When one should consult an arborist depends on the situation. Following, are a list of questions you can ask which should help you decide whether or not an arborists help might be required:

1. Do the leaves look right? Are they off color, withered, under-sized, or have dark blotches?

2. Are limbs dying back from the ends?

3. Do you plan to build on a lot with trees and want to save some of them?

4. Are more insects than usual present?

5. Are there cracks in the trunk, cankers growing on the bark, or mushrooms growing from the root collar?

6. Is soil compaction apparent?

7. Is pruning needed, and you lack the experience or means to do it properly?

8. Are limbs in conflict with wires, gutters, chimneys, or windows?

9. Must roots be cut for a new sidewalk or building?

10. Has a storm damaged your tree(s)?

11. Do you need other services such as appraising value, fertilizing, or preventive care?

A qualified arborist can serve you in meeting any of the needs outlined above. In addition, many arborists are happy to provide other advice and information about how to properly care for the trees around your home.

I’ll have more on arborists in future blogs.