Choosing an Arborist

Choosing an Arborist

tree with watersprouts from EAB
Homeowners may need to hire an arborist to assist them in removing trees dying from Emerald Ash Borer infestation, such as the tree above.

Now that property owners have had a little time to let the confirmation of the emerald ash borer in Nebraska settle in, it’s prudent to plan for 2017.  Simply put, some sort of action should be taken, starting with an evaluation of your ash trees.  A qualified arborist can assist you in determining if a tree is in good health and a proper location, and therefore a good candidate for treatment, or if it should be removed and replaced with a well-adapted species for this area.

Perhaps the best approach is one that utilizes a checklist format, so that comparison of several firms can be made.  These are the factors for your checklist:

  1. Certification. This is very important.  Ask the firm if they employ workers that have been certified by the Nebraska Arborists Association or the International Society of Arboriculture.  Certification is not required by the city or the State of Nebraska, but is a good measure of competence.
  2. References. Ask the potential company for examples of work that has been done similar to yours.  Drive by the house and look at the finished work.  If possible, chat with clients of the company.
  3. Insurance. Ask the company for a certificate of insurance.  Check the policy to make sure that it is in force currently.  Workers compensation, and proof of liability for personal and property damage is important.  If the worker makes a mistake and drops a limb through the roof and into your living room, you need protection.
  4. Claims and Practices. Beware of a tree service that advertises “tree topping” as one of its services.  This is not an approved practice, rather is a harmful one. Avoid a tree service whose workers use tree spikes to climb a tree.  Climbing spikes open unnecessary wounds and are only acceptable when removing a tree.
  5. Expense. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.  Good tree work is not inexpensive.  A professional service must pay workers a reasonable wage, purchase good equipment and insurance, etc.  Beware of an estimate that falls well below the average.
  6. Capacity to Communicate. A company representative that can clearly and succinctly explain the status of the tree(s) and a recommended course of action is an attribute to be valued and appreciated in the selection process.
John Fech
John Fech
Extension Educator - Horticulture
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.

Contact John at:
Douglas/Sarpy County Extension
8015 W Center Road
Omaha, NE 68124-3175
(402) 444-7804


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