Choosing An Arborist

Picking the right Arborist for your needs hazardous trees


You know your trees need to be pruned so you take a moment to consider your options. The first person you think of is your lawn guy. But then you remember how he butchered your hedges. “Maybe I can prune them myself,” you think. “How hard can it be?” Then in the next instant, you visualize yourself on the top rung of a ladder with a borrowed chainsaw…and you quickly dismiss that idea as well. Finally you make the right choice. You decide to hire an arborist.




What Is An Arborist?
An ISA Certified Arborist is a tree care professional certified by the International Society of Arborculture. Certified arborists have extensive knowledge in the science of tree care. To be certified, an arborist must pass rigorous tree care examinations and complete ongoing continuing education classes.

Why Choose An Arborist?
Choosing an arborist to care for your trees is always a wise decision. Trees that are properly cared for add beauty to your property and increase its overall value. Trees that are not well maintained detract from your property’s appearance and can sometimes be unsafe. Additionally, pruning trees can be extremely hazardous work and it is best left to an ISA Certified Arborist and his professional tree crew.

How Do I Choose An Arborist?
Choosing an ISA Certified Arborist is easy if you know what to look for. Here are some tips to help you select the right arborist for your job

  • First ask friends and neighbors if they have used an arborist that they would recommend. You can also check the Yellow Pages under “Tree Service” and look for a business that displays the ISA Certified Arborist logo.

  • Unless you have worked with the tree service company before and are confident that they give competitive estimates, always solicit more than one estimate for your tree service work.

  • Ask if they use climbing spikes on live trees or engage in practices such as tree topping and over lifting. ISA Certified Arborists do not use these techniques as they can severely damage your trees.

  • Be weary of “low ball” estimates that fall well below the average. Chances are the tree service company providing the estimate does not carry workmen’s compensation, does not have the equipment to do the job right and they does not have an ISA Certified Arborist on staff.

  • Be weary of “low ball” estimates that fall well below the average. Chances are the tree service company providing the estimate does not carry workmen’s compensation, does not have the equipment to do the job right and they does not have an ISA Certified Arborist on staff.

  • If an arborist claims to carry both workman’s compensation and general liability insurance, make them prove it. Insist on a certificate of insurance directly from their insurance company. (Believe it or not, some companies will claim to have this insurance even though they don’t, just to get your business.)

  • Always ask for references. A reputable tree service company will be happy to supply them. If possible, see if they can provide references for work done in your neighborhood, so that you can drive by the property and inspect the finished results.

  • Check the arborist’s credentials. Some tree workers misrepresent themselves as arborists when they have not received formal training and they have not been certified by the governing agency of tree service workers, the International Society of Arboriculture.

  • Insist on a formal contract that clearly spells out what tree work will be done and for what price. Vague contracts do not allow you to make apples-to-apples comparisons of all estimates and they offer little protection if there is a disagreement as to what services were agreed to.


  • Remember, just one bad pruning can destroy your trees. Protect yourself and your trees. Always choose a tree service company with an International Society of Arborculture Certified Arborist.









    Jon Wilbur is an ISA Certified Arborist and co-owner of Pinellas Tree Service, in Clearwater.

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    Copyright, 2005, All Rights Reserved

    Jon Wilbur