Key Questions to Ask When Hiring a Tree Services Company – Part Two
Hiring out work on a tree trimming or tree removal project can be intimidating. In the first part of this series we shared questions to ask when evaluating a tree contractor. Read on for more tips and tricks for making an optimal choice.
- Does the company appear professional?
Clean, well-maintained trucks, professional uniforms, polite staff in the office as well as in the field. These all give clues to the quality of work you’ll receive and the experience you’ll encounter if there are problems. A professional, accessible website also says something about the candidate company.
- Do they use spikes to climb trees while pruning?
Spikes may make it easier to climb the trunk for branch trimming – but your tree hates it!
In fact, this practice can open up entry points for insects and fungi to enter and degrade the tree’s internal health.
- Do they offer other services besides tree trimming and removal?
This prevents trees from being uselessly removed just because that’s all the tree company can do. (It’s the old saying – if your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.) This range of services also saves you some time in the long run – one-stop shopping makes everything a snap.
- Do they advertise archaic practices such as “topping” or “tree sealing”?
Topping is removing the top of the tree or the crown. This is chiefly done to create a view.
Topping is a wonderful way to pay someone to kill your tree – or simply remove your trees’ aesthetic value and cut your curb appeal in half.
In a commercial environment, we’ve had to top trees when the company wanted to keep the windbreak aspect, but needed to clear space in order for their satellite dishes to work correctly. This is the single exception we’ve seen in three decades of tree work. Generally, topping is considered extremely bad practice.
Tree sealing is using a tar-like material to paint over a “wound” in the tree. This type of tree doctoring was popular for decades, but is now recognized to be at best a waste of money, at worst a way to prevent your tree from naturally healing itself.
- Does the company offer winter rates?
Most professional-level tree services operate during winter – and certain species of tree must be pruned during the winter (see fire blight and winter pruning) – but even projects like tree removal can be done in winter at reduced rates.
So, if you can wait, this may be a good way to economize on quality tree care.
Big picture: the cheapest tree service will never be the one that hits the mark on all these questions.
Assess the size and complexity of the project, and make your decisions accordingly when it comes to choosing the cheapest option, especially if the bid is far below the others you’ve arranged.
A very inexpensive service bid is a good sign that there’s no insurance, no certified arborist, and a higher likelihood of errors – not a bargain!