WHAT IS AN “ARBORIST”?
HOW DO YOU FIND A GOOD ONE?
Arborists are specialists in the care of trees. They
plant, prune, fertilize, manage pests and diseases, and remove trees.
There are times when home owners realize that their trees are in trouble
and that professional help is required. If your tree leaves are yellow,
small, withered or have blotches on them, or if they have many insects and
chewed leaves, or if limbs are dying or dead, you probably need an
arborist. Also, you may need help if there has been significant storm
damage, or if you are planning construction at your home.
Hiring an arborist deserves the same consideration as
choosing a contractor to remodel your home. So, you want to secure a
professional. Reputable tree professionals usually belong to a
professional association. There are several, including the Illinois
Arborist Association, the International Society of Arboriculture, the
National Arborist Association, and the American Society of Consulting
I.S.A. Arborist Certification is a nongovernmental,
voluntary process by which individuals can document their base of
knowledge. It operates without mandate of law and is an internal,
self-regulating device administered by the International Society of
Arboriculture. Certification provides a measurable assessment of an
individual’s knowledge and competence required to provide proper tree
care. There is a list of certified arborists in the Tree Body Resource
File at the Palos Park Public Library. That list of forty four certified
firms which provide arborist services in this area is a place to begin
Twelve Tips For Selecting An Arborist *
1. Check in the phone directory, usually under Trees, Tree Service
or Tree Care Service. Although anyone can list themselves in the yellow
pages, a listing at least indicates some degree of permanence.
2. Beware of door knockers. Most reputable companies
have all the work they can handle without going door to door.
Door-knockers are especially common after storms when non-professionals
see a chance to earn some quick money. Often, storm damage creates high
risk situations for both workers and homeowners, and there is
opportunity for even more damage to trees and shrubs if work is not done
3. Find out if the arborist is certified through a
local certification program or the International Society of
Arboriculture. ISA’s program is available to arborists nationwide and
requires appropriate training, experience, and knowledge as evidenced by
successfully completing a standardized application and testing process.
4. Ask for certificates of insurance, including proof
of liability for personal and property damage (such as your house and
your neighbor’s), and workman’s compensation. Then phone the insurance
company to make certain the policy is current.
5. Ask for local references-- other jobs the company
or individual has done. Take a look at some, and if possible, talk with
the former client.
6. Determine if the arborist is a member of any of the
professional organizations. Membership does not guarantee quality; but,
lack of membership casts doubt on the person’s professionalism.
7. Never let yourself be rushed by bargains (“If you
sign an agreement today, I can take ten percent off the price...”). And,
never pay in advance.
8. Have more than one arborist look at your job and
give you estimates. Don’t expect one to lower a bid to match an other
one. Be willing to pay for the estimate if necessary; but, two or more
opinions and cost estimates are worth your extra effort.
9. A good arborist will offer a wide range of services
(pruning, fertilizing, cabling/bracing, pest control, etc.).
10. A good arborist will recommend topping a tree only
under rare circumstances (such as to save the tree after severe damage
to the crown, or for the decorative effect of pollarding in a formal
setting or restricted space).
11. A conscientious arborist will not use climbing
spikes if the tree is to remain in the landscape.
12. Beware of an arborist who is eager to remove a
living tree. Removal clearly should be a last resort.
* TREE CITY USA BULLETIN No. 6 National Arbor Day Foundation Quoted with