We all want the best for our trees. They are a valuable part of the landscape, and we feel a strong attachment to them. Finding the right company to trust with their care can feel overwhelming. However, establishing a long-term relationship with the right tree care professionals can pay off. Working with the same people each year allows homeowners to develop a plan based on their long-term goals. Additionally, they can enjoy peace of mind knowing who to call if something unexpected happens, such as storm damage or disease.
Regular pruning, or tree trimming, is an important part of caring for your tree. In general, pruning is done to:
- remove dead or hazardous branches
- improve the tree’s form, or shape, as it grows
- meet homeowner needs, such as keeping space cleared from homes, buildings, or walkways
Having the best information helps homeowners make the best choices. We’ve put together a short list of questions to help you evaluate service providers, and to help ensure you fully understand the work they propose doing on your property.
Pick the Right Company
- Ask if a tree company is bonded and insured, and licensed to do tree work in your city.
- Ask if the arborists selling and doing the work are ISA Certified Arborists with the International Society of Arboriculture.
- Communicate any questions, goals, and concerns you have about your trees and how they fit into your landscape.
- Ask them to explain exactly what they propose doing and how it benefits your trees—now and in the future.
Understand a Tree Pruning or Removal Work Proposal
- Ask if the job includes a full clean up.
- Will they remove all brush and logs? Will it include stump grinding?
- Get a specific description of the proposed work.
- For example, “Remove all dead wood to 1-inch diameter and clear buildings by 6 feet,” versus “Trim all trees in front yard.”
- Get clarification about job specifications, such as:
- What equipment will they use?
- Will they need to drop overhead utility lines?
- Are there any concerns about alternative routes to access a tree on your property—like going through a neighboring yard?
- Ask about credentials, experience, educational background, or anything else to assure you they are qualified for the proposed job.
Note: This climber from another company is not wearing the proper protective equipment and is using spikes that can damage a living tree.
- Beware of tree trimming companies who hesitate to provide documentation about their credentials, licenses, or insurance. It’s also okay to ask who will be on the job site.
- Click here to Verify an ISA Credential by entering a name or number.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A qualified arborist will clearly explain the work being proposed without being too vague.
- Don’t let your trees be “topped.” Topping happens when the entire top of a tree, or its large branches, are cut and there are no branches left large enough to become the main stem (called the “terminal leader.)
Have you ever wished your trees came with a manual?
- Download the Tree Owner’s Manual created by the US Department of Agriculture for a one-stop resource to answer your tree questions.
Learn More About Best Pruning Practices
- Topping Hurts Trees, from the International Society of Arboriculture
- ISA’s Pruning Trees information page