How to Choose a Tree Service

In this guide you'll find:

  • Common misconceptions that could leave you paying for damaged trees, property or injury of tree workers.
  • How improper pruning and fertilization invites insects and disease into your yard, making you spend two to five times more than necessary.
  • Important questions to ask before hiring a tree service company.

Common Misconceptions About Tree Services

Misconception #1 : All Insurance is Created Equal

Fact: Insurance in the tree industry is very expensive, especially workers’ compensation. Companies often do not carry proper insurance to protect you from liability, and some will stretch the truth to convince you everything is covered when they are under insured and many are unaware of what coverage is needed.

Remember, where a lot of money is involved, there is a lot of motivation to bend the truth. Do your own research and get certificates of insurance directly from the insurance company. No one should ever be offended or hesitant when you ask for proof of insurance!

It is much cheaper simply to print “fully insured, workers’ compensation and liability insurance” on a card or ad than it is to buy coverage. This deception is made especially easy and profitable because very few customers actually check to see if insurance is in place until after an accident happens. Please do your homework and ask your lawyer.

Workers’ Compensation is the most expensive and the most necessary insurance. It covers injuries that tree company employees or owners suffer at work. This is the only real protection you can have from the liability of someone being injured while working on your property.

There is no substitute for it!

Without workers’ comp, tree companies are still legally required to take responsibility for work injuries, but you – the property owner – are next in line. If you hire a contractor who has no workers’ compensation, you must pay the bill if an employee is injured and the owner can’t pay it all. You may sue the contractor to recover damages, but meanwhile you have to pay for the injured person’s medical bills, lost wages and other costs associated with the injury. Needless to say, it’s no fun.


Misconception #2 : It's All About Price

Some prices are simply too good to be true. Customers should be cautious of companies that get business based on always having the cheapest price. More often than not, they are not paying insurance premiums or properly training employees. This means they are more likely to have accidents and less likely to have insurance. Often the difference in cost is workers’ compensation; this is one corner you cannot afford to cut.

Consider this:

• It is easy to get jobs—just submit the lowest bid, and cut corners to make a profit. But…

• If you’re always the cheapest, it’s nearly impossible to get repeat business because few if any customers are satisfied! (You can forget about referrals, too.)

Arbortech of Anderson offers the best tree care rather than the cheapest. While competitive quotes are still a goal, quality work is far better than a bargain price for a job that damages your property, trees, and financial well being.

Misconception #3 : I should wait as long as possible before having my trees pruned or fertilized

The longer you wait to have your trees professionally cared for, the more structurally unsound they can become.

Trees in urban areas form bad habits that must be corrected as they grow to prevent them from becoming weak or hazardous. Urban trees do not normally get proper nutrition in proper amounts from urban soils, and various insects and diseases are invited into your landscape by less-than-vigorous trees.

The healthier your trees and plants, the less insect and disease problems occur in your yard. Mature trees should be checked annually for unseen internal decay to avoid tree failure, which can damage property or injure people.

Misconception #4 : Trees do fine in the forest. Shouldn’t they do just as well in my yard if I leave them alone?

Unfortunately, your yard is not a forest.
Important differences are…

• Trees in the forest regularly discard dying and decayed limbs. No one is usually there, so no one is harmed. You do not want this to happen in your yard.

• In nature, prairie land has no trees and the forest has no grass! Turf roots rob tree feeder roots of nutrients and water. This is why trees produce more dangerous or dead limbs in urban areas, and such limbs must be removed regularly.

• In a yard, sod and plants compete for nutrition. They need help. Urban soils are regularly compacted by human activities, lawn irrigation and top soil additions. Compacted soils (such as near construction sites) need to be aerated to allow for adequate oxygen, nutrient and water exchange.

• Yard trees need to be regularly trained and pruned. Trees always develop more limbs when they grow without trees surrounding and competing with them. So many heavy limbs make it very easy for a tree to be damaged in a storm.

• Tree canopies also need to be raised for safety concerns such as driveway visibility.

Questions to Ask a Tree Service

The best way to learn about a company is to ask specific questions and listen carefully to the answers.Thumbs up!

  1. What training have you had in tree care?
  2. Are the people you send to do the work regularly trained in safety and proper tree care techniques? How?
  3. Do your employees wear identifying uniforms to let me know who should be on my property?
  4. Does your company allow employees to use tree spikes at any time to climb trees to be trimmed? (These can seriously harm trees by causing infections.)
  5. Do you advertise or suggest topping trees? (If the answer is "yes," run from this company, unless it only tops for temporary safety or under utility lines).
  6. Does your company suggest leaving the brush by the street for the city to pick up? (The city will not pick up brush left by contractors; this can result in fines and an increased cost of brush disposal. Often when this happens the tree company has already been paid and is nowhere to be found.)
  7. Do you have general liability and workers’ compensation insurance to cover employees?
  9. Can I get pictures of some of your tree pruning jobs?
  10. Do you require any payment in advance? (Do not do it. Do not pay anything until the job is finished!)

Ask for a specific price quotation in writing. Once you're satisfied that you're working with an honest, competent professional, invite him or her to your home and get a quote. A written quotation gives you the assurance of exactly what your job will cost—no surprises. Beware of “job estimates.” They can go up.