How to Choose a Tree Company

After hurricanes, tornadoes and ice storms, tree care professionals do an excellent job clearing downed trees and repairing damage. On the other hand, some “tree experts” are expert only at taking money and chopping a tree into pieces. How does a homeowner determine who can be trusted with their tree


Persons who care about being tree professionals join organizations which provide continuing education about tree care. Some organizations have certification programs which attest to the knowledge of their members.

Professional arborist organizations include:

Georgia Arborist Association. They have an excellent list of certified arborists, some of who do ONLY tree health examinations.

The International Society of Arboriculture

Georgia Forestry Commission list of arborists


Although we might like to be able to directly compare prices between similar services (like an oil change or a lawn mowing) my tree company friends tell me this is difficult to do for tree work.

When a tree person evaluates a prospective job, they’re matching their company’s equipment, schedule, efficiency, and staffing to the projected work.

If Company #1 has a crane, they will be good at removal of large trees near houses. But their bid for a less complicated job might be higher than Company #2 that doesn’t need a crane to remove a particular tree. In a different situation, Company #2 might give a higher bid than Company #1, because they have to rent equipment or use more people.

There can be a big difference in bids between companies…not because they’re trying to cheat you, but because some companies are better matched for some jobs than others.

When you make the first phone call, always be sure the company you’re considering has liability and Workman’s Comp. insurance as well as an ISA certified arborist on staff. Ask how long they have been in business and if they have done jobs for your neighbors.

When the tree person comes to look at your situation, ask lots of questions. Will any special equipment will be needed for your job? Is there something that might make them the best choice for your project. Have a clear understanding of where limbs will be dropped and if any landscape damage can be possibly foreseen.

Know how the tree (especially if it’s in the back yard) will be accessed. Will the company need to drive trucks, track loaders, or other equipment onto the driveway or the lawn? How heavy are the trucks, and is a driveway disclaimer involved?

All tree companies know that you are likely comparing them to others, so make sure you’re getting their best and final price, not the price they might offer when they hear what other companies are charging (if you decide to share that).

Once you’ve discovered all you need to know about the companies you’re considering, you make a decision. Sometimes the decision might be based on your gut feeling of how consumer-friendly the tree representative is.

Always make it a practice to be home when the job is scheduled to be done. If any on-the-spot decisions need to be made, you want to be able to evaluate with your own eyes what is being asked and what is being suggested.

Thanks to Chris Heim at Davey Tree and Art Morris from New Urban Forestry for their suggestions above.


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