With large shade and flowering trees, most homeowners wisely limit themselves to removing small branches that are easily reached from the ground with a pole saw or with a handheld saw from a step ladder. It’s best to leave the removal of larger overhead branches and work that involves climbing into a tree with a chain saw to the commercial arborist. Using a chain saw when climbing a tree or ladder, where footing and balance are uncertain, is very dangerous. A reputable arborist is trained in climbing and is properly equipped and insured.
Consider calling in an arborist in the following circumstances:
- When feeling uncomfortable and unsure about the job that must be done.
- When the branch to be cut is heavy enough to damage a roof or fence if it falls.
- When a chain saw is needed to remove a branch high in a tree.
Hiring a Professional
There are many reasons to hire a professional for pruning chores. You may not have enough time to take care of extensive hedges or shrubbery yourself. Or you may lack the skill or equipment for major pruning jobs. It is safer in many cases to call a professional tree-care company with expertise, equipment, and insurance coverage.
Although professional tree and shrub pruning can be expensive, don’t let the cost alone deter you if the price is not out of reach. Landscape plants represent a considerable investment and add to the value of a home. Properly pruned trees and shrubs will be more attractive, healthier, longer-lived, and less susceptible to storm damage. They are worth taking care of properly. Pruning is the most important way to control their size and maintain an investment that appreciates every year.
In hiring a professional, make sure that the person is knowledgeable, reputable, and experienced. Not all those who advertise themselves as tree- or garden-care specialists actually possess the skill needed to do the job properly. Use the same care as you would to find a family doctor, dentist, or lawyer. Ask for references and addresses where the company has recently pruned trees and shrubs. Drive past, inspect the work, and follow up with a phone call to the homeowner.
Checklist for Selecting Arborists
- Certified by International Society of Arboriculture
- Insurance policy (ask to see a copy)
- Does attractive work (look at their recent work)
- Good recommendations (telephone recent clients)