TREE CARE AND TREE SERVICE- A buyer’s guide for tree-owners.
By: M David Sutton, M.S.A., ISA Board Certified Master Arborist MI-0610B
Trees are an important and valuable part of residential landscapes and properties. Trees can also be a hazard to humans and structures. I have prepared some guidelines and advice for consumers when accessing services for tree health care or for tree removal or trimming.
CAVEAT NUMBER ONE: GET THE OPINION OF A CERTIFIED ARBORIST AS TO THE PROBLEM AND HOW TO APPROACH DEALING WITH IT.
SHOPPING FOR BEST PRICE
When an arborist does a consultation and advises specific actions for tree work, it is common for customers to seek competitive quotes for the cost of that work. And we welcome that approach, but with some suggestioins to make sure you are getting the best care for youi trees.
1. Make sure that you are comparing apples to apples!
2. Many companies will offer estimates for a job, but you as a consumer must make sure that the company will do specifically what is recommended by the certified arborist.
3. Timing, technique and specific types and amounts of specific chemicals or nutritional products are important considerations.
4. Most low-ball pricing is possible because of ill-advised variations in these factors.
5. We are always happy to help you make these comparisons and if another company will do the same treatment with the same chemicals for a lower price, then we would encourage you to go with that quote.
TREE TRIMMING AND REMOVAL
1. ARBORIST. When having trees trimmed, it is wise to choose a company whose work is performed by or supervised by a certified arborist. That will usually ensure that work will be performed according to current best practices.
2. BEST PRACTICES. Some Best Practices include: never using climbing spikes or spurs on a tree being trimmed, and never trimming oak trees in the warm months. If oaks have to be trimmed in warm months (like for storm damage) then wounds should be sealed immediately as they are made.
3. INSURANCE. When having trees trimmed or removed, it is your right to see proof of insurance, both liability and workers compensation coverage. A tree company that will not or cannot prove their insurance is probably not a good company to deal with. Most reputable companies will provide you with an insurance proof sheet that you can keep and check up on the currency of coverage.
TREE HEALTH CARE
For possible tree health problems or threats, you will want to call a tree company with a certified arborist. As mentioned above, an arborist should be aware of current best practices. You have a right to see credentials and a certified arborist will be happy to show them to you. An ISA certified arborist will have a certification number like the one above.
1. SPRAYS. Most trees and shrubs should never need to be sprayed. Spraying is rarely the best choice and puts beneficial insects, birds and animals at risk of toxicity.
2. INSECTS. Virtually all insects that need to be controlled can be controlled with soil injected or trunk injected products. Potentially lethal insects include ash borers, birch borers and borers that attack oaks and elms. Scale insects can be a nuisance with sap drippage and in large infestations can cause dieback or death. Defoliating insects can stress trees severely. All of these insects can be controlled without sprays.
3. FUNGAL DISEASES. Some fungal diseases of evergreens require sprays with specific timing and pathogen-specific fungicides. Needle cast diseases of blue spruce and some pines require sprays. Tip blight of pine can be treated with trunk injected fungicides. Crabapple scab can be diminished with trunk injected fungicides or with early spring sprays. Anthracnose can be prevented with fungicide injections.
4. LETHAL DISEASES. Dutch Elm Disease and Oak Wilt can be prevented, but not treated, with fungicide injections.
5. NUTRITIONAL. Some trees get chlorotic (yellow) due to micronutrient deficiency. Management of specific nutritional deficiencies usually involves soil injection or trunk injection.
6. DO IT YOURSELF. Homeowners with the interest and energy to care for their own landscape can find much good information on our Homeowner Tree Care page.
PESTICIDE APPLICATOR REQUIREMENTS.
If you do have tree care by a professional who applies pesticides, you are entitled to have written documentation of what pesticide was used and what the target pest or disease was, in accordance with Michigan regulations:
R 285.637.12 Applicator service agreements. Rule 12. (2)
(c) A general description of the target pest or pests to be controlled.
(d) A list of the pesticides applied, including the common name of the active ingredient.
Some companies give you a document that lists many pests or diseases that may or may not be present and if present, may NOT need treatment. It is part of a one size fits all approach of spraying a variety of pesticides to all plant material with no good reason.