When the time comes to consult with a tree service company there are many options available but not all are created equal. The first question any homeowner should ask a tree care company is, “Do you employ ISA Certified Arborists?” and “Will they be the ones performing work on our trees and shrubs?” In this article we’ll cover what is an arborist, why it matters and why you should choose a certified arborist.
Your house is a valuable asset, so if you had an electrical problem or a plumbing issue you likely wouldn’t call an unskilled and untrained person to do this important work because it could go very wrong in inexperienced hands. You’d call a professional.
The trees on your property are also an extremely important part of your home and deserve the same quality treatment as the physical structure. You should call a professional and in the tree care world that’s a certified arborist.
Unfortunately, the tree care industry has is a very low barrier to entry. All you really need to get started cutting down trees is a chainsaw and a truck. But, that doesn’t mean the person advertising their services knows how to identify trees, uses the latest techniques and is able to work on your trees in a safe manner that won’t damage them or your property.
Being an arborist is actually a very skilled profession that takes many years to master. That means when you’re ready to hire a tree care company to service your trees, you’ll want to make sure you’re hiring an ISA Certified Arborist.
What is an arborist?
The International Society of Arborists has a voluntary certification program for professionals in the industry that assesses their knowledge of proper tree care. Gaining the ISA Arborist Certification is no simple task. In order to qualify to take the exam, you must have at least three years of experience in arboriculture, or a completed degree in a related field. Once qualified, you must pass a written and physical test that covers 10 separate areas of knowledge.
These areas of study are as follows:
1. Soil Management
2. Tree identification and selection
3. Tree installation and Establishment
4. Safe work practices
5. Tree biology
6. Tree Pruning
7. Tree disease diagnosis and treatment
8. Urban forestry
9. Tree Protection and preservation
10. Tree risk management
As you can see this requires candidates to have an impressive breadth of knowledge regarding many aspects of arboriculture. With the intention of always improving, it is required that certified arborists continue to attend educational classes. Without them, their certification expires. This ensures that your arborist has cutting-edge information and is up to date on current, research-based practices.
Lastly, an ISA Certified Arborist is required to adhere to a strict code of ethics. This is enforced by the ISA, and you are liable to lose your credentials if broken. You’re in safe hands when it comes to industry integrity when allowing an ISA Certified Arborist to care for your trees.
How to Find a certified arborist
If you live in the Madison, WI area, you’re in luck! Our owner, Adhem, and several of our employees are certified arborists. You can meet the team here. We’d be honored to visit your property and assess your trees. You can make an appointment here.
If you don’t live in our service area, you can search for a local ISA Certified Arborist on their site with the Find An Arborist tool. You can also check the credentials of someone you’re thinking of hiring to make sure they hold an ISA certification here.
What to look for when hiring an arborist
In order to make sure you’re hiring a reputable and skilled professional, you can take several steps.
- Ask for referrals for neighbors, friends and family
- Use the ISA’s Find An Arborist tool
- Read through the company’s reviews on Angie’s List and/or the company’s Google listing
- Call up to three tree care companies to get several estimates unless you feel very comfortable with a certain company or are a return customer
- Ask for proof of insurance and call their insurance company if you have any doubts
- Ask for information about who does the work and if they’re ISA Certified Arborists
- Don’t move forward without a written/electronic proposal that details everything the company will be doing on your property and the costs
- Consider not going with the cheapest bid. In the tree care industry there are some companies that offer more protection and benefits for their employees such as paid vacation, health insurance, retirement savings, and continuing education. This may make their bid slightly higher than companies that only have independent contractors instead of employees and offer no benefits.
- Evaluate the whole package of references/reviews, price, skills, and professionalism of each company you’re considering hiring
- Sign a contract before the work begins
Services Arborists Provide
Many professional tree care companies led by a certified arborist offer a suite of services to help property owners manage their trees with care and precision. Here are Eco we offer all of the below services.
Proactively helps young trees avoid problems with structural weakness and disease. As trees age, pruning helps them remain strong, resilient and hazard-free.
Involves safely cutting down a tree to remove it from the property for one of many reasons. While we always prefer to keep trees healthy, thriving and alive, sometimes a tree must be removed.
Disease Diagnosis and Treatment
Help trees overcome naturally occurring pests and bacteria that may otherwise harm or kill the tree.
Getting your new tree off to a healthy start with correct planting techniques will help the tree mature to its full size. Many arborists plant trees and can recommend species that are appropriate for certain locations.
The effects of many diseases and pests can be lessened or potentially avoided when the tree’s immune system is bolstered ahead of infection.
Now that we’ve answered the question, “What is an arborist?” we hope you’re convinced that hiring a certified professional with the necessary base knowledge and education is key to making the best possible decisions for the safety of your family and the health of the your trees.
At Eco, we understand the value of trees to any property and will help you maximize tree health and longevity. When you invite us to partner with you on your property, you are guaranteed confidence that a Certified Arborist is personally caring for your trees.