What is a certified arborist?
An arborist by definition is an individual who is trained in the art and science of planting, caring for, and maintaining individual trees. ISA arborist certification is a non-governmental, voluntary process by which individuals can document their level of knowledge. It operates without mandate of law and is an internal, self-regulating device administered by the international society of arboriculture. Certification provides a measurable assessment of an individual’s knowledge and competence required to provide proper tree care.
Certification is not a measure of standards of practice. Certification can attest to the tree knowledge of an individual but cannot guarantee or ensure quality performance.
Certified arborists are individuals who have achieved a level of knowledge in the art and science of tree care through experience and by passing a comprehensive examination developed by some of the nation’s leading experts on tree care. Certified arborists must also continue their education to maintain their certification. Therefore, they are more likely to be up-to-date on the latest techniques in arboriculture.
Be an informed consumer
One of the best methods to use in choosing an arborist is to educate yourself about some of the basic principles of tree care. ISA offers several other brochures in this series, which discuss many of the basic principles of tree care. Your local garden center, extension agent, or city arborists are also excellent sources of information if you should have further questions. They may also be able to refer you to an ISA certified arborist in your area.
Don’t always accept the low bid. You should examine the credentials and the written specifications of the firms that submitted bids and determine the best combination of price, work to be done, skill, and professionalism to protect your substantial investment.
Be wary of individuals who go door-to-door and offer bargains for performing tree work. Most reputable companies are too busy to solicit work in this manner.
Keep in mind that good arborists will perform only industry-accepted practices. For example, practices such as topping a tree, removing an excessive amount of live wood, using climbing spikes on trees that are not being removed, and removing of disfiguring living trees without just cause are improper practices and violate industry standards.
Get it in writing. Most reputable arborists have their clients sign a contact. Be sure to read the contract carefully. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, such as:
- When will the work be started and completed?
- Who will be responsible for clean-up?
- Is this the total price?
- What are the terms of payment?
- If I would like more to be done, what is your hourly rate?