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November 13, 20205 min read


My experience as an arborist working in different states in the country has opened my eyes in seeing tree care through my client’s perspective. Up North like Chicago and Northeast where larger trees are more prevalent it is customary to have a certified arborist as an extension of their family since trees consume most of their property. Trees are valued and respected along side their arborist who visits-at a minimum – on an annual basis. As you go further south, trees become more cumbersome. Where palm trees (not woody trees) and citrus (not native) are expected, larger trees are considered messy and “dangerous”.

Everyone can agree that trees are good. Provide oxygen, beauty, and shade to save on heating/cooling costs. Also increases your property value. The reason people have more expensive properties up North is because of trees. Think about it. When you start looking around there is a nice background of green. Look around down south and you see more open blue sky and roof lines. What would you rather have? Now, I am not talking about living in a forest or tree house (that would be cool). I am talking about living in an environment where we need start considering us living in a tree community, not the other way around. In Miami where I grew up, the total tree canopy (satellite picture of green space) is only 10% of the entire city. Needless to say we if we don’t continue planting and caring for trees we be faced to live without natural beauty since palm trees have a short life. We can design and build around trees and for those that wants trees pay more to have their house on wooded lots. What we do to protect trees during construction and long-term care depends on how we maintain our trees.


Unless you don’t want any trees on your property early planning is best for tree care. Just like you would hire an architect, general contractor to create the home of your dreams and later handyman to maintain the home of your dreams, the same should be with your trees. They are an investment and the earlier you start the better. Get an arborist on board with pre-building plans, or BEFORE buying a property to complete a tree risk assessment. Some developers don’t protect the trees during construction and arborist find the trees later in decline. What to do? Most Northerners call their arborist out every year to determine if any tree work needs to be done. On average trees in good health that are young (less than 15 years) should be looked at every year to develop good branch structure and long-term goals of your wants and needs. Older trees can be pruned/seen every 3-5 years if maintained previously but also can have an arborist look at it on an annual basis. If you choose a tree company for tree service with a certified arborist on staff these “annual” tree calls would be complimentary.

Do your research. Hire a certified arborist listed on the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) website. Not all arborists are the same. There are many companies claiming they know how to prune a tree and make bad cuts that if not done properly can increase decay. Hiring a certified arborist increases your chance of someone knowing their trees and how to take care of them properly.

After you find your certified arborist, look for one with specialties. Ask questions. There are different certified arborists who understand total tree care and others that focus on removals or tree trimming. There are methods not all arborists know that can correct circling/girdling choking (root collar excavation) roots, or correct co-dominant leaders in young trees (subordinate pruning) to prevent limbs in tearing during a storm. How about tree injections for possible nutrient deficiencies or diseases? Soil treatments and soil aeration if have compacted roots. What “tools” are under the belt of your arborist?

Develop a lasting relationship with a certified aborist. Tree companies want long-term customers. Makes it easier on knowing what the clients want and they become familiar with your trees. Bonus I found in having great customer service is the ability to be called on quickly in case of a disaster or emergency that happens and you need power in a hurry. An arborist knows your tree and being an existing customer you will get priority after a storm. Find an arborist or tree company with a certified arborist on staff to develop a relationship just like any good handyman or plumber. You will find they will save you money in determining if the trees need any work or if it’s better to stop putting money into it and phase it out/remove. Not to mention letting you know if the big limb over your house is structurally sound (strong) depending on the attachment to the tree and what type of tree you have. Peace of mind.

When consumers put more demands on tree care, there will be more qualified companies with certified arborists. For now, anyone can prune a tree and get a business license and insurance. It is dangerous work and only performed with knowledgeable certified tree workers and/or certified arborists. It is your property they are on. If someone gets hurt it they can possible sue under your homeowner insurance liability coverage. Look for tree companies that provide in addition workers compensation to their employees. Those are companies I have found value their employees and stay around longer in business.

So, is it worth it? Having a tree doctor come to your house to diagnose your tree? You Betcha

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