Stick to These 6 Tips to Select the Best Tree Service

C.E. Larusso
Written by C.E. Larusso
Updated April 8, 2022
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Make sure you’re barking up the right tree

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Don’t wait until you have to make a desperate emergency call for local tree removal to find a good service. Rather than just calling the first listing you see—or hiring the company that left flyers on your car—do the legwork in advance to make sure you know who to contact when the time comes. Follow these six tips to find the right tree service for your needs. 

1. Know Why You’re Hiring Them

It may seem obvious, but “tree service” covers a wide range of different jobs—and not every company does all the same things. Besides removing the tree that crashed into your neighbor’s yard after a freak lightning strike, a reliable tree service that employs a certified arborist near you can help with tree trimming, diagnosing a sick tree, planting, and caring for a new tree. Look for a reliable service specializing in the work you need to be done to help narrow your search and ensure you find the right people for the job.

2. Do Your Research

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Before deciding which tree service is right for you, find out what all of your options are. First, ask neighbors and friends for referrals—and pose the question to neighborhood social media groups. Nothing beats a direct recommendation from a satisfied client. Next, search online for local tree service companies and compare reviews from various sources to learn a little more about the types of projects different companies specialize in.

3. Look for Certification

A certified arborist should oversee much of the work you want a tree company to perform. Look for accreditation from the International Society of Arboriculture, the Tree Care Industry Association, or the American Society of Consulting Arborists. These certifications aren’t required by law, but they’re a good indication the pro you’re hiring is committed to the field and keeping up with the latest advancements and regulations. 

4. Ask the Right Questions

Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a few candidates, it’s time to get these companies on the phone and ask a few key questions. It’s better to figure out sooner rather than later which companies can be ruled out due to personal deal breakers and obvious red flags. One-on-one conversations with the companies that remain in contention will offer a firmer basis for your decision.

5. Don’t Proceed Without an Estimate

It’s a big red flag if a tree service won’t provide a detailed written estimate of charges for the service you need. Run—don’t walk—in the other direction if they request advance payment. Some companies will charge a flat rate by the type of job, while others break down specific charges for all the tasks involved. Comparing estimates can be a helpful tiebreaker when you decide between a couple of well-regarded tree service companies. 

For riskier, more expensive jobs like limbing and removing trees and working near power lines, find a company willing to provide an estimate and draw up a written contract that specifies the work to be done, how it’ll be performed, and the total cost. Some companies execute these tasks in ways that can permanently damage a tree, so you want to make sure the whole process is specified and agreed upon before there’s any irreparable damage to your beloved old oak. 

6. Get Proof of Insurance

For most home improvement jobs, it's a good idea to hire a bonded or insured contractor, but it's imperative when it comes to tree services. Complex jobs carry serious risks, both to the contractor's safety and your property. If one small error could lead to high costs, don't just take a tree company's word for it. Before signing a contract, ask to see proof of insurance. Your tree service company should also carry two kinds of insurance: liability insurance and workers' compensation—a reputable company will be happy to show you proof of both. Call the insurance company to confirm the policies are still active.

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