Howdy! It’s Mary here from the Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture. We’re proud partners in this campaign and are all about promoting the profession of arboriculture, which, in case you’re not familiar, is basically the business of taking care of trees. If you’ve been reading this blog, you probably have a good sense by now of how valuable trees are. (If you’re new, check out this post on some of trees’ greatest benefits.) But, you might not know how to protect and grow their value. Like any valuable, a tree’s worth is tied directly to how well you take care of it.

Arborist1For the same reasons you wouldn’t trust the management of your health or your retirement money to just anyone, trees are best handled by the pros. Certified Arborists not only have to pass a rigorous exam, but they‘re also required to participate in continuing education in order to stay certified. And if that’s not enough to sell you, they’re really good people! The truth is that I love working in this industry because of who arborists are as people. You might even say I’m a “tree hugger hugger.” 🙂

So, what exactly is an arborist?  Simply put, it’s a tree care specialist. Arborists are experts when it comes to trees and can have specialties such as climbing, utilities, municipalities, research, and more. My organization actually certifies arborists, which entails a strenuous exam proving that an arborist is knowledgeable about the best practices in the industry.

Why do I need one?  If you own trees, you’d better know an arborist! Tree work can be complex—and even dangerous—and certified arborists always know the safest, smartest approach. They also know the biology and structure of trees, so they are better at recognizing and preventing potential mistakes or hazards before they happen. In other words, a good arborist can save you precious time and money in the long run.

Arborist3How do I find an arborist I can trust?  The easiest place to find a certified arborist in your area is to browse the listings on the ISA’s website. You can search by zip code and make yourself a list of potential certified arborists. Next, visit Yelp or Angie’s List and see what other people have to say. Did their prices seem fair? Did they show up on time and with a good attitude? Once you’ve narrowed your list, get price quotes from your top 3-5 choices. Many arborists provide quotes free of charge.

The USFS Tree Owner Manual also suggests you use these quick tips as added insurance against a bad tree service experience:

• Don’t always accept the lowest price offered

• Never pay in full before the job is done

• Get critical job steps in writing: when the work will start, when the job will be completed and who is responsible for clean-up.

Have you ever worked with a certified arborist?  I’d love to hear any lessons you learned. Share your story in the comments below!