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13 Things Your Arborist Won’t Tell You

If you’re looking to keep your trees healthy, read through these 13 things you might not know to keep them lush all summer long.

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1. Routinely Pruning Your Trees Is Not Necessary

Pruning every three to five years is not required. It is a good idea to prune the a tree if there is dead wood, especially if the dead branches are 5 cm in diameter.

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2. Sometimes You Really Need Me

If you see mushrooms or other fungi growing on your tree, or if a big limb breaks off during a storm, have me out for a tree inspection before it’s too late. Those can both be signs of a bigger problem.

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3. I’m Not Ripping You Off

When you get the estimate for the work and you think we’re gouging you, remember this: A three-man crew probably has more than $200,000 in equipment on your property, each guy is probably making less than $20 an hour, and we pay 33 percent in worker compensation, one of the highest rates of any industry. We probably aren’t making a big profit.

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4. Ask A Few Questions

If you get a high price in May to take a tree down and the job isn’t time-sensitive, ask, “What would the winter price be?” That’s a ghost time for us, especially between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so we’re more likely to cut you a break.

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5. We’re Not All Certified

Ask your “tree expert” if he or she is certified. Ideally, you want someone who’s a member of the American Society of Consulting Arborists, the International Society of Arboriculture, the Tree Care Industry Association, or your local/state arborists’ association.

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6. “Fast Growing” May Not Be Your Best Choice

 Trees advertised as fast-growing typically are weak-wooded and decay-prone, and they often have limbs that break off easily in wind and ice.

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7. Don’t Let Anyone “Top Off” Your Tree

If someone offers to do this to make it safer, kick him off your property. Topping was accepted 45 years ago, but science has since shown that’s the worst thing you can do to a tree. Another bad sign: someone who wants to sell you fertilizer without testing your soil first.

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8. We Don’t Need Spikes

Never hire an arborist who uses any kind of climbing spikes, unless he’s taking the tree down. Every time he takes a step, he’s making another wound in the tree and creating a decay pocket.

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9. Always Get A Second Opinion

Always get a second opinion if someone tells you a healthy-looking tree needs to come down, especially if he wants to charge several thousand dollars.

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10. Be Wary Of The Door-To-Door Sales

Be wary of people who knock on your door and say they want to trim your tree. Good arborists don’t need to canvas neighbourhoods looking for customers.

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11. Don’t Tell Me I Clean Up Well

Here’s one thing we hate: when we make a tree really beautiful and you comment on what a good job we did cleaning up. That’s like telling the barber how well he cleaned the hair up off the floor.

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12. Go Easy On The Mulch

If you pile mulch up against the trunk of the tree (we call that a mulch volcano), the moisture can’t escape, and the trunk and root can rot more easily. Make sure there’s a mulch-free doughnut shape around the base.

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13. We Might Go Out of Our Way, If You Ask

I once hung a swing for a client from a branch 35 feet off the ground. And I’ve rescued a few cats too.