Tree work can be an expensive investment so why pay a certified arborist to trim your trees when some guy down the street offered to do it for half the price?
Your tree will be permanently damaged, both aesthetically and/or structurally, if it is improperly pruned. The results improper pruning can include but are not limited to, reduced property value, tree decline, increased storm damage, and increased liability. Certified arborists are trained to properly prune, plant, and remove trees, as well as diagnose problems, both biotic and abiotic. Tree work is dangerous, therefore it should not be done without proper training, insurance, and equipment.
Many inexperienced or under-educated tree trimmers focus on raising drooping limbs and “crown cleaning”. While “crown cleaning” is beneficial for removing deadwood very little live wood should be removed from the inside of the canopy. Stripping branches of live wood in the canopy is in an improper practice called “lion’s tailing”. Lion’s tailing redistributes the foliage towards the tips of the branches which in time will cause the branches to over-elongate. Extreme elongation causes branches to break easily in high winds or ice situations. It is hard, if not impossible to correct over-elongation once it has happened. This is because there is nothing to trim the branch back to, since all of the lateral branches were already trimmed out. The appropriate method to trim trees is reduction cuts which focuses on reducing overweight limbs from the outside of the canopy. This slows the growth of the pruned branch, but allows the branch to maintain normal balance and branching structure, thereby reducing the chances of storm failure in the future.
Here are some things to look for when selecting an Arborist (taken directly from the International Society of Arboriculture website)
- Good arborists will perform only industry accepted practices. For example, practices such as topping a tree, removing an excessive amount of live wood, using climbing spikes on trees that are not being removed, and removing or disfiguring living trees without just cause are improper practices and violate industry standards.
- Check for insurance. Both personal and property damage insurance as well as workers’ comp.
- Ask for references or visit other work-sites where the company has done work.
- Don’t always accept the low bid. You should examine the credentials and the written specifications of the firms that submitted bids and determine the best combination of price, work to be done, skill, and professionalism to protect your substantial investment.
- Be wary of individuals who go door-to-door and offer bargains for performing tree work. Most reputable companies are too busy to solicit work in this manner.
- Get it in writing. Most reputable arborists have their clients sign a contract. Be sure to read the contract carefully. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, such as:
- When will the work be started and completed?
- Who will be responsible for clean-up?
- Is this the total price?
- What are the terms of payment?
- If I would like more to be done, what is your hourly rate?
What is the best a consumer can do for their trees?
There are lots of resources to help you learn about your trees and proper tree care practices. At Wellnitz Tree Care our arborists seek to educate our clients about the trees in their yard so they can make informed decisions about the work to be done. We want to take the time to explain our process and answer your questions.
Trees are good is a great resource for homeowners to educate themselves about trees. This website is managed by the International Society of Arboriculture.
TCIA (Tree Care Industry Association) also has some great tips and information for homeowners.
The K-State Extension has lots of good tips and information about trees specific to Kansas.