As a homeowner, you need to care for the trees on your property. Their health, and aesthetic appearance would surely be top priorities in your mind. The obvious question that is most asked is – Should I hire an arborist for the job or just do it myself?

You should hire an arborist if you have a larger tree that needs to be trimmed or removed. Tree maintenance is a highly skilled trade and can be very dangerous.

Any tree taller than 15ft. is best left to the professionals.

Smaller jobs can be done yourself or you can hire a garden maintenance crew who will charge less than half the price.

Below we look at some questions to ask when hiring arborists including the not-so-obvious benefits, cost, and certification they need to present.

The simple answer is, it depends on the nature of the job you are hiring the arborist for.

As mentioned above, arborists offer a wide range of tree-related services and they charge you based on the work they do and the complexity involved in the job. But for the most part, it’s the time taken and resources needed to complete the task.

For instance, if you want a tree report from them a certified arborist would charge you between $400 and $500 for a single report. If you are looking to remove a huge oak tree then you could be looking at $4000 – $5000 for the job.

As far as tree pruning and tree removal jobs are concerned, there are several factors that would decide what an arborist will charge.

  • The species of tree
  • Size and spread
  • Location of the tree and access
  • Obstacles around the tree

If the tree is in the backyard which isn’t easily accessible with heavy equipment will cost more to remove as there will be a lot more manual labor involved. The cost goes up as more crew, equipment, and time are needed to complete the job.

How to choose the best arborist?

It is extremely important that you are choosy and exercise all caution while choosing an arborist.

There are hundreds of unskilled and unqualified arborists claiming to have the professional ‘skills’ and ‘expertise to handle your job.

Hiring a tree surgeon can be a nightmarish experience and they do more harm than good. Here we take a look at a few things you need to look for and these would let you to the best arborist.

  1. Qualifications – An arborist with a minimum of Certificate III in arboriculture (level 3 arborist) is going to be your best bet for getting a quality job done. Anything less and you will have a practicing arborist.
  2. Experience – The first thing you should do when investigating arborists to hire is to see how long they have been in business. You should be able to check this by looking up their business name in the small business register online and see when they were registered. You need a company with a bare minimum of 3 – 4 years of experience.
  3. Insurance – Pruning and tree removal is a risky job and accidents do happen even when you have hired the most experienced and qualified professionals. You need to verify that the company carries public liability insurance. The best companies do carry insurance but you still need to ask for proof of the same while hiring one.
  4. Knowledge – An arborist who knows their stuff loves to show off their skills and depth of knowledge to customers. It’s pretty easy to tell know good an arborist is by the information they can give you on your tree and exactly what needs to be done and why.
  5. Attire – If you get a guy that turns up in an old banged-up Ute and looks like he hasn’t showered in a couple of days, I would give him a miss. If he doesn’t care too much about his own appearance, he is not going to put too much effort into cleaning up after they have done it. He’s probably a bit of grub, so move on.

Why you need a certified arborist

Tree services are a lucrative and fast-growing business. This has attracted several people into this trade including “self-trained” weekend warriors. We have already mentioned the benefits of hiring an arborist, but it is equally important for you to weigh up what certification they have. There is a big difference between a Certificate II arborist and an arborist with a diploma.

It’s a skill-demanding job – Tree management might seem a simple job and you may have seen several DIY videos on YouTube. But in the real world, it is a highly skill-demanding profession. From knowledge of trees to the best practices in tree management, there are dozens of things that only a certified arborist can bring to the job.

They know the trees – Different species of trees need to be cared for differently. It is important for the person dealing with trees to understand their inherent characteristic, the kind of care they need, and how to prune them. Certified arborists have comprehensive knowledge of the science of tree care, their management, and maintenance. This separates them from individuals who picked up a chainsaw amidst job loss or other reasons.

They carry the right equipment – As with any modern job tree management also requires several types of equipment that go beyond the chainsaw as you’d imagine. From cable hoists to tree cranes and tree climbing gear to safety gear a certified arborist near you brings the right equipment to the job improving the quality of work and reducing the chances of accidents.

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Benefits of hiring an arborist

As you already know trees need to be well cared for in order to remain healthy, and safe in an urban environment. Though you can try your hand at basic care and maintenance it is always wise to hire a professional for the job. An arborist or a tree surgeon is trained in the art of tree care and management and here are some of the benefits of hiring a local tree arborist –

Tree health, vigor, and longevity – An arborist will first identify the deadwood, weak branch unions, and crossing branches for pruning. They are all the Achilles heel of all trees and do lead to their slow demise. Removing these offending branches improves the health and longevity of the tree.

Knowledge Base that saves you in the long run – Going with a local gardener will not guarantee you the depth of knowledge needed to promote your tree’s long-term health. As professional arborists, they have the required skills to identify impending problems and suggest necessary remedial measures. By using their professional knowledge you can eliminate potential risks and the un-kept tree can post to your property in the future.

Property Value and Curb Appeal – Trees and the overall landscape is one of the key factors in deciding the value of a property. That’s why that home renovation shows also ways to spend a chunk of money on landscaping. It pays dividends. When you hire an arborist they would care for and manage your trees in the right manner for optimal tree balance and aesthetics which in turn increases the value of your property.

What tasks does an arborist actually do?

As we have mentioned above arborists are tree specialists and they can carry out a number of tasks depending on your needs. Here we take a look at some of them:

  • Tree Pruning – Tree trimming or pruning is arborists’ bread and butter work. Trees in suburbia are in constant need of upkeep. Removal of dead branches, excess weight for the health of the tree, to the clearance of buildings and electrical wires for the sake of your property.
  • Tree Removal – While tree removal is often the last resort there are times when it is the only option to safeguard life and property. Trees eventually reach the end of their Safe and Useful Life Expectancy in an urban environment and slowly begin to become more of a danger than an asset. This is when it’s time to remove the tree. Other reasons include damage to building foundations or the risk of branch failures.
  • Stump removal – Once a tree has been removed, you will generally need to also remove the stump. Not all local tree surgeons are equipped with stump removal equipment, but most do.
  • Arborist report – Once a tree reaches a significant size your city can make you keep it through their tree ordinances. In cases where they are on the fence, they will ask for an independent arborist report to get a second opinion. For this, you will need a consulting arborist. Reports generally cost $400 – $500
  • Cable bracing – I am personally not a huge fan of cable bracing as I feel that if a tree cannot support a branch or itself under its own weight, then the offending tree or branch should be removed. Some people are very attached to some trees which I can understand and want to have braced to prevent future branches or tree failure. An alternative to consider is to take some weight off the branch or tree in question that will relieve pressure and make it more stable and safe.
  • Emergency tree services – There are a few tree services that are on call 24/7 just in case a tree comes down during the night or on a Sunday. You need to bear in mind that this is very expensive and they will generally charge double or triple for emergency work.
Ben McInerney
Author: Ben McInerney - Ben is a qualified arborist with 15 plus years of industry experience in Arboriculture. He ran a successful tree service before turning to writing and publishing. Ben is dedicated to providing users with the most accurate up-to-date information on everything trees.