5 Reasons to Hire a Certified Arborist 


You’ve moved into the neighborhood, and there’s a knock at your door–– a local tree enthusiast advertising their tree care services at a great price. But before you save their business card, here are 5 reasons to hire a certified arborist instead. A door-to-door salesperson with a chainsaw might prove disastrous for your trees, whereas a certified arborist knows that trees are an investment that requires skillful expertise. 

What is an arborist?

An arborist is a tree expert. Arborists are trained professionals who study the science of planting, maintaining, and caring for trees and shrubs. Arborists are certified by an accredited arborist society or association and have experience working with trees. Also known as “tree surgeons,” these professionals diagnose and treat various tree-related illnesses and pest problems.

5 reasons to hire a certified arborist   

1. Arborists are knowledgeable, certified tree experts

The primary reason to hire an arborist over a generic landscaper is their knowledgeable expertise. Arborists must pass a certification to prove their extensive knowledge of trees. Even after receiving certification from an arborist society or association like ISA (International Arbor Society), they must continually exhibit their knowledge and skills to maintain accreditation with periodic job task analysis.

Since these experienced professionals have passed comprehensive exams asserting knowledge of all aspects of arborism (tree care); arborists are often at the forefront of the field, offering the best insight into your tree and shrub landscaping issues.

An arborist can address concerns about:

  • Tree biology
  • Disease and pest diagnosis
  • Tree safety 
  • Tree maintenance and removal

An inexperienced tree trimmer may damage or kill your trees if they aren’t certified or familiar with your species of tree. Also, arborists have specialized tools and use cleaning techniques that won’t spread disease from tree to tree.

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Pruning: To help your trees stay healthy and beautiful, you’ll need to prune them from time to time. Pruning allows the tree to redistribute resources. Cutting out underperforming limbs and branches fosters new, healthy growth. Pruning also increases airflow, which helps protect against fungal diseases like powdery mildew and black spot.

A trained arborist understands the needs of trees. These tree care professionals know the best time of year to prune each tree and how to trim your trees in a way that won’t invite insects. Many insects are attracted to tree sap, and your local arborists can apply a pruning sealant to deter aphids, whiteflies, and other insects from swarming your trees.

So why hire a professional arborist to prune your trees? Well, someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing might harm the tree, as overzealous pruning can damage the stem tissue and kill the tree. 

Tree removal: Did your tree fail to survive a recent storm or drought? You’ll need to get that eyesore removed. But before you knock a hole in your home with a fallen oak, consider hiring a certified arborist to remove that 100-year-old behemoth from your property.

Tree removal is dangerous work. Whether you are making room for a remodel or your tree obstructs nearby tree growth, it’s best to leave this task to a trained arborist. 

An arborist will grind tree stumps and clean up any leaves, branches, and bark left behind. 

Cabling and bracing limbs: A trained professional may suggest cabling and bracing if your mature trees are at risk of snapping or splitting. Here, cables are attached to branches in the upper two-thirds of the canopy, tethering the branches together with steel cables. These cables brace the tree, helping it to withstand high winds and inclement weather, including snow and ice. Cabling and bracing are also used to redirect the tree’s growth.

Pest and disease control: Is a pest infestation taking over your tree? Is a mysterious plant disease threatening the life of your shrubs? An arborist can identify and treat your plants’ ailments and recommend a course of treatment. A trained arborist may suggest trunk injections, which supply pesticides or nutrients directly into the tree trunk. Trunk injections are more eco-friendly than traditional pesticide sprays since the pesticide is delivered directly into the tree, limiting the chemical impact on stormwater runoff.

Soil aeration: Compacted soil is practically useless to plants. Densely compacted soil prevents tree roots from getting the oxygen, water, fertilizer, and nutrients needed to thrive. Luckily, a trained arborist can aerate your lawn, giving your grass, trees, and shrubs a healthy boost. 

Consulting and legal services relating to trees: Do tree branches stretch beyond your lot lines into your neighbor’s yard? Are tree roots causing your sidewalk to buckle, causing a tripping hazard? These liabilities can be addressed by a certified tree professional. An arborist can identify any potential liabilities you are facing and address the problem before it goes to litigation. 

Tree protection during construction: If you are remodeling or adding on your home, it can be difficult to preserve the surrounding landscape. An arborist will protect your trees during construction by:

  • Placing fencing around your trees to keep trees safe from equipment.
  • Protecting roots from heavy foot traffic and machinery by adding mulch.
  • Covering soil with plywood to minimize soil compaction.
  • Trimming trees as needed to facilitate construction.
  • Monitor your tree’s health during construction.

Tree planting: Planting a tree might feel like a no-brainer, but many people overlook fundamental factors like soil pH requirements, hardiness zones, and tree size at maturity all the time. A tree professional can help you find the right tree for your landscape. Are you looking for something that attracts birds? Are you looking for a burst of seasonal color? Or are you navigating around pollen allergies? An arborist can help you determine which tree is suitable for your yard. 

Transplanting: If you or your home’s previous owner misplanted trees in your yard, you might require an arborist to transplant your tree to a more suitable location. Different trees have a better chance of surviving the transplant at different times of the year. An arborist can walk you through the steps of this complex solution and determine whether transplanting is a feasible option. 

Emergency care: When tree limbs fall on power lines or a reckless driver runs into your tree, an arborist can help. Tree experts can safely address trees in power lines and clean up fallen trees to keep homeowners safe. Tree surgeons are your best option for saving the tree’s life after an emergency.

3. Arborism is dangerous work

Now that you understand the services an arborist provides, you can recognize the dangers of performing these services yourself or hiring an inexperienced local. Proper tree care requires arborists to carry sharp equipment up into the tree canopy. Arborism is among America’s most dangerous jobs because of the heights, dangerous machinery, and the work they perform around power lines.

These tree professionals must deal with falling limbs, sawdust, slippery surfaces, and heavy wind daily while remaining hyper-aware of their surroundings, specifically how and where the limbs will fall. 

4.  They have the right equipment

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A pickup truck full of chainsaws won’t cut it for tree trimming and removal. A certified arborist has chainsaws, handsaws, loopers, cabling, and bracing equipment. Plus, trained arborists have safe climbing gear and personal protective equipment (PPE). To get the job done right, you need the right tools. You shouldn’t hire anyone willing to cut around power lines with a chainsaw!

5. Trees are an investment

If you are lucky enough to have a lawn full of established trees, you know they’re worth more than the shade they provide. Trees add character, shade, and erosion control. Plus, healthy, mature trees can add to your property value. Large trees on a well-landscaped lot can increase your home’s value by 3% to 15%.

These assets must be well-maintained to optimize your ROI (return on investment). An arborist can help maximize your ROI before selling your home. 

FAQ about arborism

How can I know that my arborist is legit?

A professional arborist will belong to professional organizations like:

● The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)
● The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA)
● The American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA). 

Don’t hesitate to ask for their local permits, licenses, and arborist certifications. That’s why credentials exist, to provide proof of eligibility and experience.

You can find arborists and verify their credentials on the ISA and trees are good websites.

How can I tell if my tree is at risk of falling? 

Just because a tree is slightly leaning doesn’t mean it will fall. Trees at risk of falling exhibit these characteristics:

● The tree has exposed roots
● The branches are growing in a “V shape”
● The trunk is becoming hollow
● The tree is developing soft spots
● The tree is leaning at an angle of 15 degrees or more
● The tree has stopped producing leaves near the trunk
● The tree has several dead branches

What should I ask my arborist?

Some important topics of conversation include:

Price of service: When discussing services with your arborist, the price can start to add up quickly. A trained arborist can explain why each service is needed and how the price correlates to the services rendered. On average, homeowners spend between $300 and $1,800 for an arborist’s services.
Insurance coverages: Proper coverage of your home, the arborist, and their tools is needed to protect all parties involved in case someone gets hurt or property is damaged.
References and credentials: Before you sign a contract or agree to service, it’s a good idea to hear about other customers’ experiences with your prospective tree professional. References, reviews, and certifications can assure you that you’ve found the right arborist for the job.
Equipment needed: You may not be concerned with how the job is performed, but an unexpected crane in your yard might make you wish you’d asked more questions. Understanding the tools your arborists will use helps you understand the level of risk associated with the job.
Damages (what if something goes wrong?): Accidents do happen. Understanding what happens next can alleviate some of your worries. It’s important for everyone to be on the same page.

Leaf it to the professionals

Once your trees are spruced up and healthy, why not upgrade those flowerbeds with the help of a local landscaper?

Trimming your trees will shed more light on your lawn. Is your grass ready for its time in the sun? Local lawn pros can keep your yard looking as good as your newly pruned trees. 

Main Image Credit: Pxhere

Caleb Leonard

Caleb Leonard is a writer, gardener, and eco-warrior. He enjoys enlightening readers on the benefits native plants, eco-friendly pest management, and water-wise landscape design.