K Thomas Lawson is proud to be a division of Bartlett Tree Experts, and our staff now has the backing of an international tree-care company and tree research laboratory to help continue providing excellent tree service and shrub care in the Charlottesville, Virginia area. View a complete list of professional tree services offered by Bartlett.

What do I need to know
to Hire a Tree Service?

So you need to hire a tree service. The best place to start in choosing a tree service is to check the phone book and the internet for tree companies that have an ISA Certified Arborist®.

You'll see this logo all over our website because ISA Certified Arborists® have been trained and re-certified to keep your tree healthy and to know current best practices in the industry.

There are still many outdated tree-care practices, including topping that have surprised unsuspecting customers. Topping may also violate ordinances and incur fines in your locality because it so injurious to trees and aesthetics.

Also avoid tree spikes for pruning. According to best practices, spikes are only allowed on trees that will be completely removed. Do your homework to protect the beauty and health of your trees, and the safety of your property.

Black Gum in Winter

We recommend meeting with more than one arborist to discuss your trees and to get competing bids.

Large tree companies and smaller tree companies  (our Charlottesville company included)  can have an ISA Certified Arborist® on staff or as the crew leader. Their advertisements should indicate the difference. Ask so that you can be informed!

Is the tree service qualified?

Don’t feel shy asking about the following topics before your final decision to hire a tree service. Any qualified arborist can easily answer your questions with confidence. The tree service industry is evolving at a good clip and science and safety drive best practices for people and the trees. The ISA Certified Arborist program only began in 1992, therefore some tree services still working today are not up to speed.

• Are you an ISA Certified Arborist® ? (you can check ahead of time on the ISA website)

• How many years personal experience do you have?

• In the case of a large company, who exactly will be working in my trees? How much experience do they have? Most companies have arborists with plenty of experience.

• Does your company have general liability insurance to do tree work? This is not the same as liability insurance on your place of business or on your vehicle. Liability insurance for tree work is very specific and comes with a much higher price tag because the work involves dangerous conditions and equipment.

If you have someone on your property who does not carry this type of insurance, you may be liable for any damage to your property, and any injuries to an uninsured tree worker. You can ask for a certificate of insurance sent from their insurance company before you accept the bid. This is the official method for obtaining verification, as opposed to the company offering you a Xeroxed copy of their policy. A tree company who cannot quickly get this information to you probably does not have this insurance, so pass them over.

• Ask for references from previous clients and regular customers and don’t be hesitant to check them out. Choosing a tree service is just like hiring another contractor, so use common sense!

The end of a beloved Maple

By getting several bids, you will:

• Get a reasonable idea of the estimated cost
• Learn a lot more about your trees
• Gain a concrete idea of what needs to be done for your tree or trees

Hire a tree service

Don’t automatically go for the lowest bid. Arborists with the most experience are usually more expensive, just like doctors, lawyers, carpenters and roofers. If you have a very tricky situation or are feeling nervous about safety or property, you will certainly want to choose a tree service with the most experience.

Discuss with the estimator what the price includes:

• Removing dead wood, or pruning for structure & weight

• Clean up: there are generally four kinds of clean up:

1. Leave all debris—big mess, and I don’t recommend it.

2. Rough clean up—remove all wood and debris, but no final rake up (forest & field situations)

3. Leave all big wood—great option if you burn wood or have friends who can use it and you are willing to split it.

4. Remove all debris—Your best option for no hassle. The only thing left will be the stump. Tree professionals are also great at cleaning up since they do it every day.

• Ask for a price on stump grinding. Usually it will require a second trip to your property and possibly need to be scheduled for another day.

• Does the tree require cabling support or a brace?

• Does the tree require a root collar excavation?

• If you realized you have a few smaller branches or add-ons, make it clear what you want to have done, and clarify exactly how much more it will cost.

If you expect to have numerous trees cared for over time, you will be best served by hiring the same company. They can help you track the growth or decline of your trees and make the best recommendations as the years pass.

White Pine, almost done

Accepting the bid

A signed contract is not necessary, but some tree companies do request it.  Money down is not customary when hiring a tree service unless there are supplies required such as expensive copper lightning protection or outdoor tree lighting.

Schedule a date keeping the following in mind:

• There will be one or more trucks and machinery that require access as close to the tree as possible, including on the lawn.
• Be prepared to move your cars, trailers, boats, etc. out of the driveway the night before.
• The noise or debris from trees may prove to be a minor disturbance while the crew is working.

During the tree work

• After greeting your crew, stay a safe distance away.
• Keep pets inside.
• Close any windows or doors near the work to keep sawdust out of your house.
• If you have questions or concerns, pay attention to safety and speak with a worker on the ground when you will not distract him or her.

After the work is done

Just with any other contractor on your property, check to make sure the crew have completed all that was discussed before you write your check.

We welcome the opportunity to further educate our homeowners on care of their trees whether they can do something by themselves (such as fertilizing) or have us come back at another time. Make the most of having tree professionals on your property to learn anything else that will improve your tree's health and your enjoyment of your trees.

We offer tree care and stumpgrinding in the Charlottesville, Va area

What is a Certified Arborist

ISA, the International Society of Arboriculture

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