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7 Secrets You Need to Know When Hiring a Tree Service
Updated: 08 April 2021
Trees add lots of value to your property (and to the planet)! However, they can also be a liability. If you have large or old trees on your property, having a reputable tree lopper or arborist at the ready can save you from significant damage. Instead of worrying about your large trees during the next big storm, you’ll have peace of mind.
Here are some of our top suggestions on how to find a tree lopping service you can trust for regular maintenance and emergency situations.
1. How Should I Start My Search for a Tree Service?
If you’re new to an area or if it’s your first time looking for tree trimming services, you should start by asking around. There’s no better resource than people. Ask your friends, family, and neighbors about who they may have used for similar jobs.
Luckily, the internet has made it easy to find reputable service providers nearby. Check out various social media platforms, online forums, and review sites to gather information on the best arborist near you.
It’s important to do your online research cautiously. Some companies may have paid for advertisements. This means they aren’t at the top of search results because of their popularity—they paid to be there. You should check out their reviews, but even reviews can’t always be trusted. They may not have been left by real customers.
If you see a lot of short reviews with perfect, five-star ratings, that could potentially be a red flag. The company could have created a lot of accounts and left these themselves. Long-winded, exaggerated reviews should also raise some suspicions. Real customers will probably leave reviews that are direct and concise.
2. What Time of Year Should My Trees Be Cut?
Different seasons call for different types of tree maintenance. The summer months bring on longer days as well as damaging storms. This increases the demand for tree lopper services. As demand goes up, so do prices.
Severe weather and storms also cause insurance, government, and residential emergency work to surge. You may have to wait for several weeks to get the assistance you want. Because there are also so many holidays between December and May, penalty rates can be high.
If you want to save on fees and get a faster turnaround time on tree lopper services, get them done in the winter. Very few other people are going to want their trees trimmed during the colder months. When the demand is low, so are the prices. You’ll save big! Getting work done
to your trees in the off season will also give you the opportunity to ask the arborist questions about potentially hazardous trees that could fail during the stormy season. Because there is less rain this time of year, it will also be easier for equipment and vehicles to get the job done in a shorter amount of time.
The bottom line is that getting your trees during the colder months will save you time and money!
3. What’s the Difference Between a Lopper, an Arborist, and a Tree Worker?
Although some people might use the terms “lopper,” “arborist,” and “tree worker” interchangeably, they are all different. A lopper is essentially a handyman. They may have the skills to work on your trees but they haven’t completed the formal training of an arborist. They aren’t certified. Because of this, a lopper should never be responsible for high-risk jobs. It’s too much of a liability.
On the other hand, an arborist has completed all the proper training with a registered training organization (RTO) and holds at least an AQF Level 3 (Certificate III) in arboriculture. Some of the things that will be covered in this training course include:
How to properly maintain and prune trees
- How to complete a complex climb
- How to fell a tree with advanced techniques
- How to complete an aerial rescue
- How to perform aerial rigging
- How to operate an elevated work platform
- How to follow OH&S requirements, policies, and procedures in the workplace
- How to safely use herbicides to poison trees and stumps
There are also some tree workers out there who claim to be arborists but they only completed part of their training and, thus, are not properly qualified. They may present you with a document listing all the completed units of their training that led to their certificate. Look out for a spot on the certificate that says the person “has successfully completed the following competencies/courses that contribute to . . .” Without a formal document confirming they have successfully fulfilled the requirements for their Certificate III or higher, they are still not an arborist.
Lastly, there are tree workers. These people can complete a variety of “ground-based activities.” Through some training and relevant work experience, they’ve obtained at least an AQF Level 2 (Certificate II) in arboriculture or the equivalent of one. Make sure that this person demonstrates they are competent in pruning according to AS 4373-2007. Otherwise, you shouldn’t let them near your trees!
4. What Qualifications Should I Look for in an Arborist?
Don’t ever take a tree service that claims to be a “qualified arborist” at their word. Even if you see them proudly flaunting a certification on their website, it’s important to obtain further information about the crew.
When you meet with the arborists who will work on your trees, talk to the person in charge. They should hold certificates related to all the main tasks you need. These are known as “advanced tree climbing techniques.” A qualified arborist should be able to operate the chainsaw at an intermediate or preferably advanced level. Make sure they have all the certificates related to any other tasks they are completing and equipment they are using.
5. How Do I Know I’m Being Charged a Fair Price?
It’s always a good idea to ask for at least two quotes from two different companies before you commit to one. If you still are unsure after two quotes, get another! You should feel confident in an arborist or tree lopper’s abilities and the price they’re charging you.
Remember that you get what you pay for in the tree industry. You should be experiencing quality service at every step of the process. The quote should be prompt, and the interactions should be polite. A reputable company should be able to answer any questions you have.
You can also tell a lot about a tree service based on the clients they work with. When you’re on the phone with a tree trimming company, ask them about their clients. Companies that work with reputable businesses that have strong values usually also have strong values. The bottom line is the better the service is, the more likely you are to pay a fair price.
6. At What Point Should the Tree Lopper Request Payment?
You shouldn’t pay for a service until it’s completed. Any reputable tree service will only take your money after the job is done. On the other hand, unprofessional tree workers may try to con you out of your hard-earned money. They’ll ask for payment right away and sometimes make you wait months for service.
In some situations, if you are requesting work that’s valued at tens of thousands of dollars, the service may draw up a contract. However, you should never automatically sign it. Make sure you have a solicitor take a look first. Any clauses that could take advantage of you will jump out to them immediately.
You should also never pay just to get a quote. When a company is charging you for an estimate, it probably means they are traveling quite a distance, and this alone should be a red flag. It may mean that they have such a bad reputation in their local area that they can’t get much business there.
7. What are Some of the Terms an Arborist or Tree Lopper Uses?
Tree service has a whole language. Arborists and tree loppers even use different terms. If you know some of the most common terms, getting a quote and hiring a service will be a lot easier!
Some common arborist terms include:
- Branch collar: the swollen trunk tissue at the base of a branch
- Crown lifting: removing a tree’s lower branches to create more space between the ground and the tree branches
- Crown thinning: making a tree’s foliage more uniform by removing the smaller branches
- Reduction pruning: shortening the length of tree branches to reduce the overall size of a tree
- Decline: a general decay in a tree’s appearance including early fall color, early leaf drop, small leaves, yellow or green color, and other things; this can be caused by environmental factors and disease
- Dieback: the gradual death of tree branches that begins at the tips
- Wound: visible damage to a tree such as a hole
- Codominant stems: multiple tree stems of about the same size that are coming out of the same place in the tree trunk
- Decay: weak branches or shortened lifespan due to microbes or fungi digesting tree wood
- Epicormic shoots: the sprouts that come out of dormant buds on a tree’s trunk or branches
- Formative pruning: the practice of shaping a tree while it’s still young
- Included bark: ingrown bark tissues that grow around codominant stems
- Lateral branches: a secondary branch that grows out of the main tree trunk
Some of the terms a lopper will use include:
- Lopping: the process of cutting off tree branches
- Topping: the process of removing the tops of trees or the larger tree ranches, leaving only smaller branches behind
- Chopping: cutting down a whole tree
- Hat racking: another word for topping
- Halving: the process of reducing the size of a tree by about half
In addition, any professional you hire to work on your trees should be familiar with most of the local native and introduced tree species. They should know their common names and botanical names. This shows the level of training and commitment they put into their work.
Author: Dice Farrguia is the managing director of Farrugia Bors. Vegetation Management. Dice became a qualified arborist in 2012 and joined forces with his younger brother Nazz to create one of leading tree services on the sunshine coast. Dice also sits on the executive board at Queensland Arboricultural association inc.
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