Get Expert Tree-tment With an Arborist

C.E. Larusso
Written by C.E. Larusso
Updated March 17, 2022
classic house with large tree in front
Photo: Ken Hurst / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • An arborist can help you plant juvenile trees to ensure healthy growth or maintain your existing adult trees.

  • These tree experts can also help you determine if your sick tree is worth saving or removing.

  • Expect to pay $400–$2,000 for removing a dead tree.

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Not only do trees offer stately, natural beauty and shade from the hot sun, trees can add property value. While much of tree care and maintenance can be done on your own, big jobs—like pruning high-up branches, diagnosing diseases, and removing dead trees to make way for new ones—should be handled by a certified and trained arborist. Read on to learn about all the tasks these tree pros can handle and when to call one.

What Does an Arborist Do?

In short, an arborist is a tree expert who has studied the science of arboriculture. These specialists care for trees and ensure these stately plants can live harmoniously alongside us humans (as well as our homes) safely. Arborists can handle the following responsibilities.

Planting Trees

An arborist can recommend which trees will thrive in your climate and which won’t be invasive and harmful to other plants and wildlife. They’ll also help you plant these trees properly so they receive adequate light and space and can care for them until the trees have developed well-established roots.

Tree Maintenance

An arborist will prune or trim your trees to remove any dead branches or ones that might be getting too close to power lines. Pruning your trees regularly can improve their overall health and growth, and an arborist will know exactly how to prune your specific variety of tree to ensure it thrives. In addition, your pro can evaluate any trimming that might need to happen before a major natural event, such as a big snowstorm.

Identifying Sick or Dying Trees

If you aren’t sure whether or not your tree is about to die—or already has—an arborist can confirm this. They can also spot any diseases your tree might have and help you address them before it’s too late or they spread to neighboring trees.

Removing Trees

Whether your tree died from a disease or was the victim of a natural disaster, a certified and trained arborist can properly remove it. They can also remove old stumps that might be blocking you from creating the yard of your dreams. 

When to Hire an Arborist

An arborist is a trained pro and charges an hourly rate to reflect this fact. You probably won’t need to call one for every tree question or task you have, but here are some instances of when you should seriously consider hiring one.

Diagnosing and Caring for Sick Trees

Before you decide to remove a sick tree, have an arborist confirm it’s actually diseased and see if they can help you save it. Signs of tree disease include: 

  • Wood dust-like particles on the trunk

  • Discolored or damaged leaves

  • Weak or broken branches

  • Missing bark

  • Leaning trunk

You should also look out for pest infestations. Pests like to call dying or dead trees their home, so if you spot a nest, it might be time to bid adieu to your old maple.

Pruning Large Trees

You can prune small trees that are your height or shorter, but let a pro handle anything taller since they have the right equipment to scale the tree safely and remove the branches. This is especially true if you need to trim branches to prevent them from intersecting with something they shouldn’t, like power lines.

Planting New Trees

Young trees need to be handled with care to establish healthy roots and have room to grow. An arborist can make sure you choose a tree that’s endemic or native so as not to harm other trees, hedges, or animals. Your local arborist can also plant your new tree in the best possible spot, as well as advise on ongoing care.

Tree Removal

Tree removal worker cutting a stump
Photo: Gabriel (Gabi) Bucataru/Stocksy / Adobe Stock

Sometimes, you can save a sick tree—and an arborist can certainly advise you about that. But if a diseased tree needs to be removed entirely, an arborist will know how to remove it from your landscape without causing harm to your other plants, home, and even your neighbor’s house.

Preparing for Environmental Threats

Natural disasters as small as lightning storms and as major as hurricanes require preparation. Trees need to be trimmed back to ensure their branches won’t fall into power lines or have lightning protection installed around them. A pro can safeguard your tree before any significant natural event. 

Emergency Tree Services

If your tree has suffered unexpected damage from a hurricane or other disaster, call an arborist to assess its injury, remove any broken branches, and help get it back to its healthy state (or remove it, if necessary).

Costs to Hire an Arborist

If you're ready to hire an arborist, ask an arborist near you if they have the proper education and certification; professional accreditation is available from the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), and the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA). Your pro should also have proof of liability and workers' compensation insurance. 

The cost to hire an arborist depends on the task. They typically offer free consultations, though some companies charge around $75 for an inspection. The cost for tree removal is mainly based on the tree's height and accessibility and can range from $400 to $2,000 (or more).

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