Finding The Right Professional For Your Trees

By Jon Skinner
Missouri Department of Conservation

Trees provide multiple benefits to us. They provide shade during hot afternoons; reduce storm water runoff, and increase property values. By spending time around trees, we feel more relaxed and often think more creatively.

Occasionally, trees need our help. They may need pruning for various reasons or treated for a pest or disease. Regardless of the need, trees deserve proper care by professional arborists.

When you need tree work done, look for professionals with the proper certification. Be wary of people who go door-to-door offering tree removal, pruning or some other type of tree care services. Remember that tree care, if not done correctly, could lead to much bigger problems for your trees and your pocketbook.

When you need to hire someone or a company to work on your trees, follow these tips. Not every competent arborist will meet all of these requirements, but the more they meet the better treatment your tree will get.

  1. Check the phone directory, usually under “Trees, Tree Service, or Tree Care Service.” Anyone can list in the yellow pages, but their listing indicates some level of permanence.
  2. Keep in mind that most reputable companies do not need to knock on doors for customers. They will have all the business they can handle.
  3. Find out if they are certified by a state or private organization. Some good certifications are with the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) formally the National Arborist Association (NAA) and the Kansas Arborist Association (KAA). Find out if they are a member of any of those professional organizations.
  4. Find out if they have a city business license. If they do not, and your community requires one, they are not to be working in your town.
  5. Ask for proof of insurance for both liability and worker’s compensation. Then call the insurance company to verify it.
  6. Ask for local references. They should be happy to show you other work they have done.
  7. Do not be rushed by any bargains that are offered and never pay in advance.
  8. Check with multiple companies to get the best-qualified and best price. Good arborists offer a wide range of services. This displays their knowledge and skill.
  9. A good arborist will not recommend topping your tree. It is better to remove a tree than to top it.
  10. A conscientious arborist will not use climbing spikes unless removing the tree.

More information about caring for trees around your home can be found at your nearest Missouri Department of Conservation office or at treeswork.org or mdc.mo.gov/tree-health.

Jon Skinner is a community forester for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and works at MDC’s Joplin office. To speak with a forester near you, visit https://mdc.mo.gov/contact-engage.