Plants - Trees and Shrubs

All about arborists

What you need to know about hiring a tree specialist

Client-arborist relationship

Arborists usually provide free estimates or quotes for specific work. Tree removal can run into thousands of dollars, depending on size and proximity to buildings. Consultations or diagnostic services are usually charged at an hourly rate, which may range from $90 to $125.

Ask for a written agreement outlining the work, the cost, when it will be completed and who will do the cleanup. Some arborists require a client to sign an agreement before starting a project.

Remember that trees are a lifetime investment and healthy ones increase your property value. It makes sense to hire the person who offers the most skill and professionalism, not the lowest bid.

What arborists do

Inspect and evaluate

Good tree health begins with preventive care. Avoiding a problem altogether is ideal, of course, but dealing with one in its early stages saves time and money. It’s therefore wise to consult an arborist when you’re contemplating buying a new home with an established garden as well. A local tree specialist will also be aware of outbreaks of insects or diseases in your area, and be able to treat or prevent infestations.


Arborists have the equipment, training and experience to climb a tree without damaging it or themselves. Regular pruning improves a tree’s health and appearance; done poorly, the result may be an unstable tree or one that’s more susceptible to disease or insect infestations.


Some trees may need supplemental feeding. An arborist can make recommendations and provide deep-root fertilization as required.


Arborists can offer advice as to which trees are best suited for your garden, and be good sources for purchasing trees; they also often have the equipment to plant large specimens.

Remove trees

Removal is always a last resort, usually only necessary when a tree is dead or dying, or considered hazardous. If pruning can’t prevent the crowding of nearby trees or other type of obstruction, however, an arborist may recommend removal. It’s fair to say, though, most would much rather nurture a tree back to health than take it down (steer clear of a company that seems overly eager to remove one).

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