How to Hire an Arborist

The services of an arborist may be required if a tree is in need of pruning, fertilizing weather-related damage assessment, or other problem diagnosis. The homeowner should have an idea of what needs to be doen to a tree before hiring an arborist. Full-service arborists are professionals who possess skills in planting, transplanting, prning, fertilizing, pest management, disease diagnosis, tree removal, and stump grinding. Consulting arborists are experts who offer advice, but do not always perform services. They specialize in tree appraisals, diagnosing problems, and recommending treatments.


Tips for Selecting an Arborist

Check in the phone directory, usually under “tree services”. Although anyone can list themselves in a directory, al isting at least indicates some degree of permanence.

Beware of door-knockers (especially common after storms).

Never be rushed by bargains. Never pay in advance.

Ask for certificates of insurance, including proof of liability for personal and property damage (such as your house and your neighbor’s) and worker’s compensation. Phone the insurance company to verify current policy information.

Ask for local references of jobs the company or individual has done recently. Visit the sites and if possible, talk with the former clients.

Determine if the arborist Is a member of any professional associations. Membership does not guarantee quality, but lack of membership may cast doubt on the person’s professionalism.

If inquiring about a company, ask if they employ certified arborists.

The International Society of Aboriculture consists of individuals who have demonstrated their skills and have been recognized nationally.

Have more than one arborist look at the job and give estimates.

A good arborist will offer a wide range of services such as pruning, fertilizing, cabling/bracing, lightning protection, and pest/disease control.

A conscientious arborist will not use climbing spikes if the tree is to remain in the landscape.

Beware of an arborist who is eager to remove a living tree. Removing clearly should be the last resort.

The International Society of Arborists offers various membership categories for professionals, students, and interested lay citizens. The ISA promotes the improvement of arboriculture among its members and the public, sponsors research, promotes educational materials and maintains a computerized information service.

Check for a list of certified arborists in your area on the internet or call your local extension service.

Information for this article is excerpted from The National Arbor Day Foundation, Bulletin No. 6, “How To Hire An Arborist”, and was adapted by Ohio State University Extension.