Hiring a Tree Service Company: What You Need to Know

When looking for a tree service company to hire in the greater Cincinnati area, what should you do? You’ll probably ask neighbors, friends, and family for a recommendation, and look at online reviews (here are our Google reviews). You’ll narrow down the list to a few options and ask them for a quote, compare recommended options and prices (and don’t forget to ask for insurance certificates!!), and then make your decision.

But there’s one very important thing to also look at. Does the company have a Certified Arborist on staff?

That one thing alone can make a big difference in the quality of tree work you receive.

What is a Certified Arborist?

ISA Certified Arborist on staff logoA Certified Arborist is someone who understands the nuances of all types of trees, proper tree pruning and removal techniques, how to identify, prevent and control the pests and diseases that damage your trees, safety precautions to protect themselves and you, how to operate dangerous equipment, and much more.

A certified arborist has gone through extensive training and a certification process administered by the International Society for Arboriculture. They are properly educated, trained, and knowledgeable about what is best for your trees and shrubs, and are required to adhere to a code of ethics.

How is that different from a “tree guy” or “tree care professional”?

In Ohio, anyone can claim to do “tree work,” even if they have no training or qualifications in the tree care profession.

The person with a pickup truck and a chainsaw who tells you they can prune/trim your trees for a “really good rate”? That’s a “tree guy.” It may be anyone from a helpful neighbor or friend of a friend to a professional landscaper (more on that below) or a person just starting out. Unfortunately, they often do more harm than good.

A ”tree care professional” will usually have some training and will have often worked with a mentor to learn the ins and outs of doing tree work safely and correctly. However, they don’t have formal qualifications or certifications that indicate a specified level of knowledge or competence.

A barefoot man with no safety equipment cuts wood with a chainsaw, which is an injury waiting to happen

This is NOT a Certified Arborist (please don’t do this!!). A Certified Arborist is focused on safety for everyone involved – not everyone considers safety when working on trees, unfortunately.

Doesn’t it cost more to hire a Certified Arborist instead of someone else?

It may cost more to work with a Certified Arborist than with someone who isn’t as well-trained or experienced. But keep in mind that your trees, particularly mature trees, are an expensive investment in the beauty and livability of your property. Hiring based on price, rather than expertise, can very easily put that investment at risk. It’s more expensive to remove a damaged tree than it is to prune it correctly, and a replacement tree will take 20 years or more to grow to maturity.

As another example, an arborist understands how a tree will react to different types of pruning. In the Cincinnati area, we often see improper methods of “pruning” that cause trees to produce suckers in an effort to survive, leading to more and more pruning (at additional cost to you) and the tree’s eventual decline. A Certified Arborist will not do that. He or she also understands that proper pruning takes into consideration the entire tree, its health, species, location, and more.

To save money, can’t I do tree work myself? I prune my shrubs all the time.

There are many dangers involved in trimming – and especially in removing – trees. Although you may be familiar with how to prune shrubs, a large tree is a very different thing.

However, if you can reach any of the branches (and know how to make proper pruning cuts) without a ladder, you can do that work yourself.

For anything that you’d need to reach with a ladder or higher, we recommend calling in a professional.

And do NOT lean a ladder up against a tree or climb one next to a tree. Trust us, it’s an accident waiting to happen. Contact an arborist with the proper tools and equipment to do the job safely.

a metal ladder leans up against a tree badly in need of pruning

Don’t ever use a ladder to reach your tree, even for pruning.

Is tree work really all that dangerous?

You may be surprised to learn that the field of tree work is consistently listed as one of the two most dangerous professions in the USA. That’s above FBI agent, police officer, firefighter, and more.

Trees are large and heavy and can react to tree work in unpredictable ways, especially if they are weakened from storms, wind, disease, or pest infestations.

Add to that working at heights (most tree work requires someone to climb the tree, ascend in a bucket truck, or use other tall equipment), nearby power lines, and oftentimes a very tight space in which to work (usually between homes or buildings). One mistake can cause enormous damage and injury.

Finally, there are a lot of powerful, dangerous tools used in tree work. Chainsaws, complicated ropes, chippers, aerial lifts, and more add to the safety risks of all involved.

Proper training, safety gear, and safety preparedness are always top-of-mind for a Certified Arborist. And having a Certified Tree Care Safety Professional (CTSP) on staff (as we do here at Lefke Tree Experts), makes safety an even bigger priority.

Who should I call if my tree looks sick or is infested with bugs?

Certified Arborists are not only trained in tree pruning and removal, but also in other ways to keep trees healthy. This includes keeping up to date on the pests and diseases that are prevalent in the Cincinnati area, knowing how to spot the signs of damage, and implementing preventive and/or control measures to keep your trees and shrubs healthy.

If your tree is unhealthy, a Certified Arborist will be able to advise you on whether it needs to be removed and if so, will know how to properly and safely remove it without undue damage to your property.
They will also be able to advise you on the best tree(s) to plant on your property if you wish to replace the tree that was cut down.

Call a Certified Arborist when you plan to plant, prune, trim, treat, or remove any tree on your property.

My landscaper says he can prune my tree(s). Why should I hire an arborist instead?

That’s nice of your landscaper to offer to do some additional tasks! However, trees are very picky about their needs and they need a different kind of care than manicured lawns and landscape plants. Landscapers are primarily focused on making your landscape look good now, whereas a Certified Arborist is focused on the long-term health of your tree, as well as its appearance. As a result, they approach tree care differently, with more attention to structural issues, tree health, and safety.

Additionally, most landscapers are only insured for work done within a few feet of the ground. If they sustain an injury while working on any of your trees, you may be liable for the costs of medical care (and more!) of anyone who is hurt and/or any property that is damaged, including your own.

How does someone become a Certified Arborist?

Lefke Tree Experts has Certified Arborists on staff because we know the importance of proper tree care. An arborist has specific knowledge and training on all kinds of trees. Certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), an arborist will follow the best industry practices for tree care and remain updated on new tree care methods and techniques.

To become certified, a tree care professional needs to have years of experience working with trees, as well as knowledge of best practices in all aspects of tree work. To demonstrate their knowledge and skill, they have to pass a comprehensive written test and are required to earn continuing education “credits” annually to maintain their certification.

Certified Arborists adhere to a code of ethics and follow regulations, laws, and professional tree care standards.

How do I know if someone is really a Certified Arborist?

All ISA Certified Arborists have a certification ID number. Ask for that number. Then verify their credentials on this website: https://www.treesaregood.org/findanarborist

In summary…

We’re proud to have both ISA Certified Arborists and a Certified Treecare Safety Professional on staff – not only because it supports our commitment to providing the best possible quality of tree care services, but because it helps ensure the long-term health, beauty, and safety of your trees. Trees do so many things for us, it’s nice to do something good for them. Be sure that your trees are properly cared for by hiring a tree service company with a Certified Arborist.

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About Lefke Tree Experts

Our professional tree services include tree removal, tree pruning and trimming, clearing, and stump grinding for the greater Cincinnati metro area. We are a fully insured company with the training, equipment, and expertise needed to get the job done right. If there’s a tree in your yard that needs to be trimmed or removed, call us today!

You can always reach us at 513-325-1783.