• Aaron Cull

What to look for in a Tree Pruning or Arborist in Calgary

Like any professional industry you wouldn’t hire just anyone to do a renovation on your property, so why would you hire just anyone to maintain your trees. Keep these tips in mind when choosing your arborist to ensure they have the experience and expertise to do the job safely and with beautiful results.

  • Do they carry general liability insurance and how much does their policy cover if an accident were to happen to your property? Do they have Workers Compensation insurance for their employees and separate accident insurance for the owner?

  • Reputable companies carry this insurance to ensure if damage does result to any of your property, that it is covered by the service provider

  • Request to see a copy of the professional’s insurance. This will save stress down the line if, in an unfortunate event, damage was to occur

  • If they carry WCB and accident insurance this will protect the homeowner from liability if something were to happen to any personnel

  • Insurance can cost companies up to 30% for operating costs. If a company does not have insurance, you are rolling the dice if in the end you are saving money by getting someone cheaper to do the work. You could be on the hook for damages or liable as the homeowner for an injury or death of a personnel. What risk would you take?

  • Does the company provide a detailed scope of work? Do you know who will be completing the actual work?

  • Companies who provide a detailed list of recommendations and use words like ‘codominant stem’, ‘reduction of main leader’, ‘interior cleaning or thinning,’ ‘deadwood removal’ etc. are likely but not always professionals.

  • Companies who use words like ‘topping’ share a lack of experience and total disregard for protecting your greatest assets.

  • Mature (10 years or older) trees shall not receive live tissue pruning of >10% during a single pruning session

  • Young trees (<10 years) can tolerate up to 20% live tissue pruning during a pruning session. The focus of pruning live trees should be on the development of good structure and symmetry. This will prevent excessive pruning or preventable storm damage from weighty limbs when the tree reaches maturity

  • Often the person who comes to look at your trees and provide the consultation is not the one who will be working on your trees. This isn’t always a bad thing if the professional makes detailed notes. However, things can be lost in translation. If the owner is the one providing the quotation and carrying out the work this eliminates issues with communication between multiple parties and less chance for mistakes on what is outlined in the scope. It may be a little higher investment to have the owner or professional do the work, but in the end the quality will be to a higher degree provided all the points on the list check off.

  • What kind of equipment or experienced personnel does the company have? How many individuals are board certified?

  • Larger jobs often require bigger pieces of equipment to carry out the job safely or an individual with rigorous experience and climbing education

  • Are they part of the International Society of Arborists (I.S.A.)? If so, they are board certified and are required to undergo continuing education units to maintain maximum competence. If you are unsure if the Arborist or company is ISA certified, ask them to explain what ANSI Z133 is. This refers to numerous safety standards set by the ‘The American National Standard Institute.’ A copy can be researched online. If the Arborist cannot describe or is not ISA accredited, it is best to pick another provider.

  • I called a tree care professional and they charge a nominal consultation fee. Should I schedule a visit for them to provide a quotation?

  • ONLY If they meet the following criteria:

  • ISA Certified personnel carrying out the tree work

  • Have a minimum of three years working with trees

  • Possess one or more certifications from an accredited Canadian College or University (Pesticide Applicator’s license, forestry certificate, land reclamation certificate, botany or agricultural degree/certificate

  • Often these individuals are very skilled and are in high demand. This likely makes them more qualified, decreased chance of liabilities to property and quality of work is higher.


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