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What Should I Look For When Hiring An Arborist?

When it comes to maintaining the health and beauty of your trees, you want to ensure you make the right choice in selecting an arborist. Trees are not just part of your landscape; they are a valuable investment in the beauty and well-being of your property. Arborists play a crucial role in safeguarding the health of your trees and your landscape as a whole. However, not all arborists are the same, and hiring an uncertified tree-care worker can pose significant risks to your trees. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll help you understand what to look for in an arborist, so you can make an informed decision and protect your trees – and your investment. When hiring an arborist, prioritize certification and ongoing education, ensure safety, work with a skilled and certified team, avoid detrimental practices, demand adherence to ANSI standards, and balance cost with quality for top-notch tree care.


1. Certification: The Foundation of Trust

Highly Trained Professionals

Certification is the first and foremost factor to consider when choosing an arborist. A certified arborist is a tree-care professional who has demonstrated a high level of expertise in various aspects of arboriculture. To achieve certification, an arborist must pass a rigorous test that covers a wide range of knowledge areas, including biology, nutrition, fertilization, tree/soil relations, water management, identification, selection, installation, pruning, diagnosis, construction, climbing, cabling, bracing, and safety.


Certified Arborists are not only experts in their field, but they are also committed to staying up-to-date with the latest advancements in tree care. They must attend ongoing training programs to maintain their certification. While certification is not a guarantee of the quality of work, it is a critical step in the right direction to ensure you’re hiring a highly trained professional who is dedicated to the well-being of your trees.


2. Continuous Education: Keeping Skills Sharp

Stay Ahead of the Game

The field of tree care is constantly evolving, with new techniques and products emerging that are not only better for trees but also more environmentally friendly. An arborist must be committed to staying informed about these evolving practices and incorporating them into their work. Continuous education ensures that your chosen arborist is equipped with the latest knowledge and techniques to provide the best care for your trees.


When interviewing potential arborists, inquire about their commitment to ongoing education and their awareness of recent developments in arboriculture. This will help you gauge their dedication to keeping their skills sharp and providing the best care for your trees.


3. Safety: Non-Negotiable

Prioritize Safety

The safety of both the arborists and your property should always be a top priority. Ask to see the arborist’s current certificates of liability and workers’ compensation to ensure they are adequately insured in case of accidents. It’s also important to assess the condition of their equipment. For instance, a dirty or wet climbing rope is a red flag, as it indicates a lack of proper equipment maintenance.


Additionally, inquiring about their preparedness for emergencies is crucial. The arborist should have a well-defined plan for handling unexpected situations that may arise during tree care operations, ensuring the safety of all parties involved.


4. In-House Workforce and Trained Professionals

The Value of a Skilled Team

The quality of an arborist’s team is a significant factor in the success of your tree care project. While some arborists may send their employees to conferences to enhance their knowledge, the best in the field encourage their team members to become certified arborists or tree workers themselves. A well-trained team is more likely to deliver exceptional results and ensure the health and longevity of your trees.


During your selection process, don’t hesitate to ask about the qualifications and expertise of the arborist’s team. Working with a team of trained professionals can make a substantial difference in the quality of care your trees receive.


5. Avoiding Harmful Practices: Red Flags to Watch Out For

Preserving Tree Health

To ensure your trees remain healthy and vibrant, avoid arborists who engage in harmful practices. There are two major practices that you should be cautious of:

a. Topping Trees: Tree topping is a destructive practice that involves removing large sections of the tree’s canopy, leaving it disfigured and vulnerable to disease and decay. Reputable arborists never advocate topping, as it is detrimental to the health and aesthetics of the tree. If a tree-care professional promotes topping, consider it a warning sign.

b. Spurs Usage: Professionals should not use spurs (spiked climbing gear) when ascending healthy trees. Spurs can wound the tree, creating entry points for diseases and causing harm to the tree’s structure. Be wary of arborists who use spurs, as it indicates a disregard for tree health.


6. Following ANSI Standards: Best Practices

Contract According to Standards

A strong indicator of a trustworthy arborist is their commitment to adhering to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A300 Standards. ANSI standards define best practices for various aspects of tree care, including pruning, fertilization, safety, and more. Your chosen arborist should have a copy of these standards and be willing to contract their work according to these guidelines.

Compliance with ANSI standards not only reflects a commitment to quality and safety but also ensures that the work performed on your trees aligns with industry-recognized best practices.


7. Fair Pricing and Payment Structure

A Balance Between Quality and Cost

While quality tree care is an investment, it doesn’t mean you have to overspend. It’s important to get multiple bids for your project to compare pricing, but be cautious about sacrificing the long-term health of your trees to save a few dollars. High-quality tree care often comes at a reasonable cost, given the expertise, training, and equipment required to protect your property and the trees.

Look for arborists who are transparent about their pricing and are willing to provide invoices in stages or upon project completion. This payment structure allows you to assess the quality of work before making final payments.



Your trees are a valuable part of your property, and finding the right arborist is essential to their health and well-being. Remember, when selecting an arborist for your tree care needs:

  • Prioritize certification and continuous education to ensure your arborist is highly trained and up-to-date with the latest practices.
  • Never compromise on safety. Verify insurance and equipment condition to protect your property and those involved in the project.
  • A skilled and certified team is essential for top-notch tree care.
  • Avoid arborists who practice tree topping and the use of spurs, as these are detrimental to your trees.
  • Ensure your arborist adheres to ANSI standards for the best practices in tree care.
  • Balance cost and quality – fair pricing often reflects the level of expertise and care your trees will receive.

By following these guidelines, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed choice when selecting an arborist for your tree care needs, safeguarding the health and longevity of your trees and protecting your valuable investment.

Make the right choice for your trees and your investment today – contact Tree Masters of Tennessee for a professional evaluation and expert tree care that prioritizes your tree’s health and your property’s well-being.