Top 10 Questions to Ask Tree Service Providers

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If you have a garden or a bigger property, you probably have some trees on it. And if you have them, you know how hard they are to take care of. From pruning and trimming to pests and fertilization, trees require a lot of time and energy. And most of the maintenance work is dangerous and requires some heavy equipment and serious safety gear.

To prepare your trees for upcoming hurricanes or tourist seasons and to prevent possible hazards, hire a good tree service in time and let the experts do their work. 

But before hiring, you should be well acquainted with the service you are getting. Most available tree services are contracted by the government or local authorities, which can give a misleading feeling of expertise. However, it is not always the case, so sometimes you might get a lot less than you expected or even paid for. To ensure that you are getting the best service, never hesitate to ask questions about the company and seek more information about the service provider you are hiring. 

Tree service worker in blue jeans holding a chainsaw and wearing bright yellow protection gloves, strapped in tree climbing safety equipment.

The following section will tackle the ten most important questions to ask any tree service provider:

1. Can they provide a recent certificate of insurance and a written copy of the contract?

ISA Certificate is one of the main requirements that should be a prerequisite for contracting any company. It is a credential issued by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and obtained only by professionals with field training. Additionally, you may want to check the Tree Care Industry Association Accredited Business confirmation or a Certified Tree Care Safety Professional Credential. We suggest continuing your search if the company does not have these three certificates.

Once you hire a company, ask for a written copy of a contract and read it thoroughly. If you decide to hire without a contract, you are exposing yourself to several legal issues. 

First of all, if a service provider does not offer a contract, it might mean that they are not a legitimate or legal company, and you could get in trouble for working with them. Second, if a service provider does not give you a contract, you might not be able to legally pursue them in case they do a bad job, or damage your property in any way. And third, if you are not under a written contract, you might be the one to cover all medical and legal expenses if anything happens to service providers on your property. 

2. Can they provide you with references?

References are another essential requirement many people seek when hiring any professional service, especially a tree maintenance service that deals with possible hazards and the health of your environment. 

Comments and feedback from past clients are often the best criteria for deciding whether the company is worth hiring. Many companies have already prepared a list of customers and reviews on their Google Maps, Yelp, Facebook page or official website, and other relevant online resources, but hiring a company based on your friend’s or acquaintances’ recommendation can also be valuable. In any case, make sure you do your research and read both positive and negative reviews. That way, you will get the best image of a provider and will be able to make the best decision for you and your property.

3. Can they offer you a detailed estimate?

A written estimate is relevant for anyone seeking to hire a company for a particular service. This kind of document confirms verbally discussed details for afterward decisions. This way, you can compare several offers, which is the best way to ensure you are making the right decision. The estimate should include the scope of the job, prices of the service as well as equipment used.

4. Does the work they do require a permit? 

Some trees in Florida, such as Mangrove trees and some rare types of palm trees, are protected by law and require a permit to remove them, even if they are not in a public space. 

Good tree service providers should be familiar with all protected tree types and legal regulations that surround them. Make sure that, before hiring, you see your provider’s permits and other legal documentation, so you can rest assured that they won’t perform any illegal activities on your property.

5. Do they look professional?

Taking care of an image and presentability to customers is not always the best indicator of professionalism. But it is a positive addition to the number of other factors considered when choosing the service to hire. 

Any company that provides a great service will make an effort, and present its qualities to the customers. They will also take good care of their equipment – maintain their truck, saws, pruners, and other tools as much as their safety gear, or website, social media activity, and customer support services. 

Any tree company that uses bad equipment, or lacks safety gear could harm your property and their safety. Try to avoid it, because if an accident does happen, you as the owner of the property where it all happened, will be held accountable for it, and will probably have to financially compensate any legal or medical costs.

So as the owner hiring a tree service provider, pay attention to every little detail, communicate clearly, and provide as much information about the property as possible, to reduce the possibility of additional, unexpected damage or accidents. 

6. How much time do they need for the project?

It is one of the fundamental questions you must ask before starting the actual project. Planning and detailed organization of the work performed on the project speaks a lot about the professional approach to every customer, project, and company’s overall expertise. 

Ask about the complexity of the project you want them to undertake – some services might require more time than others. 

People usually want to get the job done quickly, but when experienced arborists give their estimates of workload, do not try to rush the process. Always go for quality over quantity.

7. What approach and equipment will they use?

Equipment and tools used for the job can tell a lot about the company and its attitude towards the job. The condition of their equipment is often something to look at – look at the adequacy of the suggested equipment for the job you need to be taken care of since inadequate tools can harm trees and cause injuries, that you might end up financially compensating, even if it is not your fault that an accident happened. 

In case they use massive equipment, crossing over your lawn or area covered with flowers can cause immense damage, destroy the location and require even more repair. We advise you to provide the company you hire with information about the location of sprinklers in advance, since they may get damaged while performing a service.

8. Do they use personal protective gear while doing the task?

Personal protective gear is primarily a legal requirement. Harmful accidents can happen anytime, especially when using heavy machinery. 

Every good tree service company knows how important it is to protect their workers. Safety gear protects the worker’s head and face, hands, legs and feet, and other body parts. It can really make a difference between life and death. 

That is why a tree service should always provide information about safety equipment and status.

9. Do they use spikes to climb trees?

This question relates to the type of service you need. Depending on whether you seek professional help to remove an entire tree from your property, using spikes is a regular and desired part of the equipment for the job. On the other note, if you are not removing the tree but simply want to prune it, then a tree service should not use spikes since they can cause damage to a healthy tree.

10. Do they perform “topping”?

Topping is the service of removing live sections from the top of the tree. It harms the tree more than other pruning methods, and experts do not recommend it. 

If you notice that a tree service performs topping, it might be a sign of poor service quality. It indicates that the company is not following the highest standards of professional care and could damage your trees. 

Never hold back from asking any question you feel is relevant to the tree service. You deserve to understand the process but do not try to interrupt if you have no experience. Do your investigation and ask before the work begins. 

Any good tree service provider will gladly answer your questions, explain the process and give you all the information you need to decide if it is the best tree service for you. 

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