×

What you should know before hiring a tree service

  • Hiring a tree professional boosts curb appeal and extends the life of your trees. Dreamstime



Angie’s List
Friday, May 25, 2018

The dawn of spring and approach of summer mean it’s time to start hiring tree services to tidy up your yard. Of course, a good tree service company does more than just prune leaves and snip branches. Hiring the most qualified tree service professional ensures a longer life for your tree and a safer yard for you and your family.

What kind of professional should I hire?

Most states don’t license tree service professionals, so when you’re hiring, you need to look for reputable third-party certification. The International Society of Arboriculture and the Tree Care Industry Association both offer respected certification programs. Certified arborists are trained in long-term tree health and the safest methods for pruning and, if necessary, removing trees. They engage in continuing education to stay current on research and innovation in tree care.

Why shouldn’t my pro “top” a tree?

The act of tree topping, defined as the excessive and arbitrary removal of parts of a tree with no regard for its structure or growth pattern, is a contentious one in the tree service industry. But most professionals agree that they should not remove too many branches and leaves. And when they do cut trees back, they should take great care to maintain the tree’s structural integrity.

Responsible pruning targets dead branches, those that cross and rub against each other, and unsafe branches that pose a threat to the house. Proper pruning, unlike topping, helps the tree develop strong roots.

Topping, by contrast, destroys the balance between the roots and crown of a tree. Removing too many branches and leaves can starve trees because, without foliage, trees cannot make enough food to maintain their strength. Instead, the tree will quickly generate food-producing shoots that are much weaker and more prone to breaking.

Professionals do note that fruit trees can be an exception to this rule, since they’re a crop as well as shade-producing and ornamental trees. But most trees on residential properties should not be topped.

How does tree removal work?

Sometimes, you may feel you have no choice but to remove a tree. It may be too close to your home, potentially causing damage during severe storms. It may be growing into power lines and creating a hazard. A seriously diseased tree may be weakened and more prone to falling down, in which case it’s safer to bring down the tree in a controlled manner.

Tree removal is a hazardous job that is best left to the professionals. Fees vary based on the height of the tree, its condition, and the thickness of the trunk. Trees in dangerous areas, such as close to structures or power lines, will bump up the price. Removing the stump is often an entirely separate process.

You should also ask your professional how they plan to get rid of the waste. Many tree removal services include chipping and removal in their estimate, but you should be clear up front. For an extra charge, you can ask them to split the logs for firewood and stack them in your yard.

Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie’s List, a provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers.