Last week, I talked about the first two rules you should follow when looking for a tree service company. Here are the other four:
Rule No. 3: Shop for quality and value. Indicators of quality are membership in the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), National Arborist Association (NAA) and American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA); clean, dent and rust free vehicles; and ISA-certified arborists who look professional, work professionally and speak professionally.
ISA members adhere to a code of ethics. ISA-certified arborists must study and keep current on best management practices. They are required to attain a minimum of 30 hours of re-certification continuing education units every three years to maintain their certification. This helps ensure the people caring for your trees know what they are doing, and that what they are doing is based on the best current science.
The NAA has a nationally recognized safety program that allows members to qualify for lower group insurance rates, which translates into lower overhead and more competitive pricing of services.
ASCA members pool their knowledge to hone their skills on tree forensics and learn how to perform effectively as expert witnesses in court cases. Firemen are fanatics about equipment maintenance because their lives literally depend on their equipment functioning as designed on demand. It is exactly the same for tree work. How does one trust a company to take care of one’s property when their beaten up trucks testify that they do not respect their own property and equipment?
Rule No. 4: Specify proper tree work in the contract.
Require ANSI A300-1995, ANSI Z133.1 and all applicable OSHA requirements be met. Specify that no climbing spurs be used on any of your trees, except trees being removed. Never agree to top a tree. Topping is the most glaring indicator of arboricultural incompetence, yet some tree owners still insist on it out of ignorance. I do not know a professional arborist who tops trees.
Rule No. 5: Specify the level of damage to property you are willing to accept.
You can get a lower price if you are willing to accept more property damage. I know of competent professional arborists who can dramatically reduce costs to remove a tree if the owner is willing to accept their yard being left torn up and gouged out.
These same arborists can also remove the same tree so that nothing but leaves, sawdust and footprints will touch the owner’s lawn.
After one mowing, no one would know they were on site.
This latter level of service costs more than the former as it takes more time, equipment, care and skill than just flopping a tree. Decide — before you sign — specifically what you want your landscape to look like after the job is complete and you are ready to pay the bill. If it is not in the contract, it is difficult to enforce.
Rule No. 6: The day before the work is to be done, take digital photos with a date and time stamp on them of every aspect of your property: the driveway, roof, lawn, walkways, birdbaths, swingsets — everything. If something gets damaged, you can prove what condition the property was in the day before the work was done.
Again, most of the companies out there are good, solid businessmen who care about doing a good job for their customers. It just takes one rascal to put a bad taste in your mouth that lasts a long time.
Good quality tree work will enhance your property value, while poor tree work can reduce your home’s resale value and the quality of life for you and your neighbors. Choose wisely, grasshopper.