How to Hire a Tree Removal Service

Overview

While most trees are considered valuable assets in the home landscape, problem trees can present serious maintenance issues and safety hazards. A tree may have been planted in the wrong place to begin with; it may have outgrown its space or it may be in danger of falling or dropping branches. In these situations, tree removal is often the best solution. Finding a tree removal service to do the job safely and correctly is critical. By hiring a tree removal service with the proper training and experience, you can be confident you won't be adding to the problems you're trying to solve.

How to Hire a Tree Removal Service

Step 1

Survey the problem. Take a long look at the tree and assess the issues it presents. Take notes so you will be able to describe the situation in detail to the tree companies you contact.

Step 2

Ask the neighbors. One of the best places to start your search is by asking friends and neighbors for referrals. If they've had similar work done on their property and they are happy with the results, add the name of the service they used to your list.

Step 3

Search the Internet. Start with the websites of professional organizations like the International Society of Arboriculture. Refer to their lists of tree services in your area. You can also do an Internet search using words like "tree service" "arborist" and "tree removal" coupled with the name of your city.

Step 4

Consult the phone book. Look in the Yellow Pages or advertising section under the words "Tree Service" "Tree Care" or "Arborist." If a company isn't listed in the advertising section of the phone book, that does not mean they are not qualified. However, if it does spend money on phone book advertising, it can be one indication that it is an established company.

Step 5

Ask questions. Before you proceed with any tree removal company, you will want to know whether they meet some basic qualifications. First, make sure they have insurance, including workers' compensation and liability coverage. You will also want to know how long the company has been in business, whether they have certified arborists on staff and who exactly will be doing the work. Ask whether the company maintains membership in any professional organizations. This can be a sign of a business that takes an active role in professional development, training and involvement in their profession. Finally, ask for a list of references that have had similar tree removal work done by the company.

Step 6

Get an estimate. After paring down your list using the questions above, invite two or more companies to your property for an estimate. Notice how many questions they ask of you and how thoroughly they assess the problem tree.

Step 7

Do your homework. When you are ready to make your final selection, make a list of questions and call all of the references they have provided. Ask whether the reference was satisfied with the results and whether the work was done safely, on time and at the price quoted. You can also check the Better Business Bureau for complaints against the company. Ask the tree removal company to show you their proof of insurance and any documentation that verifies their professional credentials.

Step 8

Get a contract. Make sure you have a clear written agreement with your company. Sign and keep a copy. Although you may be asked for a down payment, make a final payment only after work is completed to your satisfaction.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never try to remove a mature tree on your own. The risks to people and property are far too great. Be wary of a bid that is dramatically lower than the others. This may be a sign of an inexperienced company or one that does not understand what it costs to do the job safely. In some states, any business can call itself a tree removal company with or without credentials. Steer clear of companies that are not experienced, trained and certified in this type of work.

Things You'll Need

  • Phone
  • Phonebook
  • Internet
  • Notepaper

References

  • Ohio State University: How to Hire and Arborist
  • Trees Are Good: Why Should I Hire an Arborist

Who Can Help

  • Find a Tree Service
  • Better Business Bureau
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About this Author

Elizabeth Shanks has been writing professionally for more than 10 years. Her work has appeared online and in print in newspapers, books and consumer and professional magazines. Specialties include gardening and landscaping, the environment, consumer education and health. She holds a Master of Science in education from the University of Wisconsin.