What Is An Arborist: Tips For Choosing An Arborist

Arborist Evaluating Trees
(Image credit: Snajpo)

When your trees have problems you are not able to solve, it may be time to call an arborist. An arborist is a tree professional. The services arborists provide include evaluating the health or condition of a tree, treating trees that are diseased or infested with pests, and pruning trees. Read on for information that will help in choosing an arborist and where to get certified arborist information.

What is an Arborist?

Arborists are tree professionals, but unlike other types of professionals like lawyers or doctors, there is no one license or certificate that helps you identify an arborist. Membership in professional organizations is one sign that an arborist is a professional, as is certification by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Full-service arborists are experienced in all aspects of tree care, including transplanting, pruning, fertilizing, managing pests, diagnosing diseases, and tree removal. Consulting arborists have expertise in evaluating trees but only offer their opinions, not services.

Where to Find an Arborist

You may wonder where to find an arborist. One thing to do is to check the phone directory to find those individuals and companies listed under “tree services.” You can also ask friends and neighbors about arborists they have used in their yards. Don’t ever hire people who knock on your door offering tree cutting or pruning services, especially after a big storm. These may be untrained opportunists looking to make money from fearful residents. Find out whether the person offers most of the services arborists provide. Pick an arborist with equipment such as an appropriate truck, a hydraulic boom, a wood chipper as well as a chainsaw. If a person doesn’t have any tree equipment, they likely aren't a professional. Another way to find someone with expertise is to look for arborists who have been certified by the ISA. Arbor Day Foundation offers a page with certified arborist information that enables you to find a certified arborist in all 50 states of the U.S.

Choosing an Arborist

Choosing an arborist you will be happy with takes time. Don’t accept the first person you talk to about your tree. Arrange for several certified arborists to inspect your tree and suggest appropriate action. Listen carefully and compare the responses. If the arborist suggests removing a living tree, question him or her carefully about this reasoning. This should be a last resort suggestion, only used when all else has failed. Also, screen any arborists who suggest tree topping absent an unusual cause. Ask for cost estimates and compare job bids, but don’t go for the bargain basement price. You often get the level of experience you pay for. Request insurance information before you hire an arborist. They should provide you with both proof of worker’s compensation insurance and proof of liability insurance for personal and property damage.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.