Tree pruning is an environmentally friendly maintenance to keep a healthy and attractive landscape that is safe for your family use. Crooked pruning practice leaves a tree less healthy and with possible liabilities resulting from a branch or stem breakage or tree instability. Furthermore, tree pruning is a delicate practice best left to qualified professionals due to high risk of serious injuries, or more severely, death. In 2017 and 2018 respectively, the Bureau of Labour Statistics recorded 78 and 77 work-related fatalities among tree trimmers and pruners. Half of these casualties were due to slips and falls, while the use of and contact with equipment accounted for one-third of total fatalities. Hence, it is recommended to hire trained and experienced tree workers near you well acquainted with industry professional and safety standards.
While you may not be a tree care expert and may not know what questions to ask a prospective tree pruner near you, here are some smart inquiries to make before you make the hire:
In the United States, there are over 40,000 licensed tree pruning professionals. Licensure is a proof of qualification that any tree pruner near you is proficient to complete the trimmings according to national standards and local codes. Only seven states have a mandatory specialized license for tree pruners, they include Hawaii, California, Maryland, Connecticut, Maine, Louisiana, and Rhode Island. In other states, your trimmer is required to hold a general contractor license either at the state or local level.
Licensing requirements differ across the states and municipalities. For example, in addition to licensing fees, California, Hawaii, and New Jersey require a tree pruner to have had substantial years of tree work experience, while Maryland requires at least two years of education in addition to a minimum of one-year of tree work experience. It is easier to obtain a license in some other states, for instance, in Louisiana and Rhode Island, tree pruners only need to have written and passed one exam to qualify for a license.
In the event that your state does not issue an official special license for tree pruners, ask to see a license or certification from a professional association. The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), and the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ISCA) are some of the leading professional associations of tree caregivers that provide licensing for members. It is a good practice to consult your stateâ€™s Department of Labour or local consumer protection agency to inquire about the licensing requirements for tree pruners near you.
Also, ensure to verify the name and validity date on the license before hiring. You may also visit the website of the applicable licensing or certifying authority to confirm membership of the tree pruner.
Tree pruning is a job that involves daring actions such as climbing tall trees and the use of power tools at high altitudes. The delicate nature of their job makes tree trimmers susceptible to accidents. For example, there were 97 work-related fatalities and 1,070 occupational injuries reported among tree trimmers and pruners in 2019. Hence, the probability of an accident occurring mandates the need for tree pruners to carry relevant insurance policies.
Typically, general liability and workerâ€™s compensation insurance plans are required to obtain a work license. General liability insurance covers injuries caused to others and all accidental damages to your property in the cause of the work. Workerâ€™s compensation, on the other hand, covers the cost of medical care to injured workers, as well as income lost due to work-related injury. You may want to check with your stateâ€™s licensing department or local consumer protection agency what the insurance requirements are.
To prevent the eventuality of an uncompleted job, it is advisable to hire only bonded contractors near you. A surety bond will ensure that the bonding company steps-in to bear the cost of completing your job in the event of a service default. Bonding may be an additional requirement to secure a license. Contact the local building department in your area to determine the bonding requirements for home improvement contractors.
Ask for a copy of your tree trimmerâ€™s insurance and bond certification. Use the information provided to verify the authenticity of these coverages by putting a call through the issuing companies.
Tree pruning is quite a general term, and there are varying kinds of tree pruning services your tree may require. Some of the tree pruning specializations include:
- Ornamental Pruning: This kind of pruning is usually done to enhance the appearance of a tree. It may involve removing branches growing out of line and improving the whole tree structure.
- Deadwooding: This type of pruning involves removing dead weight from your tree. Getting rid of decaying and dead branches improves the overall tree health and keeps the tree safe for users.
- Lacing: This tree pruning practice is aimed at improving light penetration and ventilation for big trees. It involves depopulating dense canopy areas to expose the main branches to more sunlight and air.
- Standard Trimming: This kind of trimming removes excess tree branches, storm damage, and overgrowth. It helps to achieve improved tree health and safety.
- Wind Sailing: Trees, particularly heavily branched ones, may be at risk of breaking in the event of a strong wind. Wind sailing involves carefully removing some parts of the tree to ensure the tree becomes flexible and can bend and sail safely with the wind.
- Crown Reduction: The uppermost part of a tree may be next to a utility installation such as a powerline. Crown reduction may be constantly done to keep the tree from obstructing or making dangerous contact with the installation.
In certain circumstances, your job may be allocated to a co-worker or subcontracted to a third party because of its specificities. It is advisable to make further findings about the licensing and experience of the coworker or the third party. It is also recommended to ask for proof of insurance, licensing, and past work references of both the contractors and subcontractors. You may not be exonerated from a personal injury lawsuit if there is an accident on your job and property when your work is being supervised by a subcontractor.
A tree pruning service warranty may be oral or implied. However, it is best to have a warranty contract written. Warranty for a tree pruning service may cover consequential damages. For instance, a warranty may assure that a disease for which a tree was pruned will be cured. In some cases, the warranty may cover consequential damages such as injury to a user struck by a dead branch.
Ask for assurances from your tree pruner, and you may have them agree that they will be responsible for any damage or injury arising from shoddy work. Note, highly proficient tree pruners near you would not hesitate to provide a warranty for their workmanship.
Trees are essential components of the environment, and such are not allowed to be tampered with at will in municipalities across the country. Local authorities, therefore, may require a permit to carry out tree pruning activities on your property. For example, City of Portland in Oregon, City of Berkley, City of Los Gatos, and City of San Jose in California, New York City in New York State, and the City of Tampa in Florida are some of the areas which require a permit for pruning trees on your residence.
Ask your tree pruner if he has a permit to work on the type of tree at hand. You may also make efforts by visiting the local building authority office near you to make findings regarding the requirements for tree pruning permits.
References are not hard to find for proven professionals. You may ask your tree pruner to make reference to three past tree pruning works they have executed. This is particularly recommended by the Consumer Protection Unit of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Ensure that these references tally with the job at hand and you may also request for references living near you.
Past references will shed more light on the level of workmanship and experience of the tree pruner. If the tree pruner has a website or professional profile online, those may be the right avenues to look for past work portfolios and reviews. Former clientsâ€™ opinions on Yelp, Better Business Bureau, and Google Business Reviews are also excellent sources of business reviews.
A business license is an authorization to provide services or products on a commercial scale. Ask to see your tree pruner's business license, which allows them to conduct business in your locality. In addition to being duly registered as a lawful entity, capital requirements, certification, and tax filing are some of the hurdles that businesses need to scale through before carrying on operations.
Ask to be shown a valid business license and authenticate the same by either putting a call through to the issuing authorities or visiting their websites. Your Office of Stateâ€™s Secretary is one place to make inquiries about a business license.
While pruning may be prescribed to improve the tree's health and keep it safe for users, poorly done trimming may worsen the tree's health and not leave it any safer. Also, tree pruning exposes professionals to health and safety risks. These problems underscore how important it is to employ professional hands. Some of these concerns include:
- Removal of diseased or defective tree parts: Pruning is one of the measures adopted towards preventing the spread of a disease from one part of the tree to another. This situation would usually require a mix of training and experience, as a wrong cut may, in fact, worsen the treeâ€™s health. Pruning the wrong part may leave the tree weaker and more vulnerable to storm-felling.
- Interference with utility structures: For trees around power lines and high voltage power installations, pruning requires extra care and knowledge. For example, only an ISA-certified utility specialist may be able to handle cases of tree interference with electricity utility installations safely.
- High-altitude trees: Tall trees like the mountain ash and white pine trees will usually require more sophisticated tools such as a bucket lift. Working at this height also involves greater risk, and a fall may be fatal.
Generally, companies and professionals vary in what they charge for their services. While location is a primary factor affecting the cost of tree pruning, other factors such as tree height, tree type, and required tools and equipment also contribute to the total cost. Below are informed estimates of the cost of tree pruning services:
The prices above are only a guide to the actual price, and there may be substantial variation in these prices across states.
Standard of living across states vary, and consequently ability to pay. Tree pruners near you will usually consider the prevailing economic standard in charging fees for their services. In addition to location, several other factors also affect the cost of pruning, and these include:
- Type of tree: Generally, the bigger a tree, the more time and effort it will require to prune, and they may, in some cases, be more dangerous to prune. Substantially tall trees may require more sophisticated machinery to prune than what would be sufficient for a relatively short tree. Therefore the extra time, effort, tools, and equipment will affect the price a pruner charges.
- Pruning Purpose: It will cost more to prune trees in recreational areas such as hotels and resorts, relative to trees on private property. While homeowners may be more concerned about the household membersâ€™ safety around the tree and may forgo appearance, pruning trees for safety in recreational areas may also require ensuring to maintain the tree's aesthetics, thus involving more careful and professional handling.
- Location: Location greatly influences pruning cost, particularly as it concerns the accessibility of the site and the surrounding structures. Servicing remote areas will typically cost more than easily-accessible areas because of the difficulty in getting work tools to remote locations. Similarly, trees that are in open areas require less care compared to those closely surrounded by structures.
Extensive formal education is not usually required for tree workers, who are better classified as technicians. A large portion of their knowledge and skill is garnered from technical training and work experience. It may be sufficient to seek qualifying credentials offered by the professional tree workers association.
In states where workers are examined on their expertise, state-offered certification may also be sufficient. California, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Maine each require that every tree worker goes through a two-stage qualification examination to acquire a license. In contrast, Louisiana, Maryland, and Rhode Island all require one stage of examination.
Specifically, the ISA and the ASCA offer various qualifying and certification programs for members, depending on such memberâ€™s specialization. For tree pruners, the relevant qualifications include:
- ISA Certified Arborist: Three or more years of full-time, relevant, hands-on arboriculture work experience, accompanied by a recognized university degree in any one of arboriculture, landscape architecture, horticulture, or forestry, are required for this credential. A holder of this credential must be well-versed in all facets of arboriculture. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) particularly recognizes this certification.
- ISA Certified Arborist Utility Specialist: Electric utility pruning, electrical awareness, storm response, and customer relations are these professionals' specialties. They would usually have accumulated at least 2000 hours of work experience in the last two years or have worked as a consultant for a utility for at least 4000 hours over the previous ten years.
- ISA Certified Tree Worker Climber Specialist: Candidates who hold this certification have shown the abilities and stamina needed to climb trees, as well as the ability to follow safety guidelines and navigate the upper tree sections. First-aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation(CPR), and aerial rescue are all taught to candidates.
If your tree requires just the removal of a few dead branches, then you may be able to have it fixed by a handyman near you, but even at that, any accident or injury may pitch you against occupational safety regulators and local building authorityâ€™s sanctions. For a professional and assuring tree care service, appearance improvement, diseased and dead branches removal, and safe execution, then a professional tree pruner is the better option.
Professional pruners are trained to handle different job scenarios and are equipped with the right tools and machinery. Furthermore, a flawed pruning procedure may further jeopardize your tree's health and lifespan, and moreover, handymen do not carry valid insurance covers.
The decision to hire a professional tree trimmer is therefore hinged on safety, tree health, professionalism, and adequate cover against casualties.
Since unwanted tree parts and branches will have been accumulated at the base of the tree by the time pruning is completed, some post-work expenses include:
- Cost of clearing the site of the work
- Cost of disposal waste
Depending on the pre-contract agreement, most tree pruners may offer to clear the site of work for a fee. This offer may be given more precedence as it is expected that a more thorough, professional work would be done.
Furthermore, in circumstances where pruning was done to prevent the spread of a disease, there may be the need to apply a chemical treatment routinely to prevent a recurrence.
No, tree pruning on private property falls under routine home maintenance and is typically not covered by homeowner insurance policies.
More and more businesses across the country, including tree pruners near you are embracing digital payments. Similarly, the FTC recommends cashless payments for your home improvement projects. Digital payments are examples of such cashless payment means. They are reputably safe, fast, convenient, and secure. Payments via digital means include the use of debit/credit cards, internet banking, mobile wallets, and digital payment apps. However, it is still necessary to seek your tree prunersâ€™ consent on whether they want to be paid through a digital means and what digital payment platform is most convenient.