Recently I was handed and article from none other than Readers Digest. Skeptical as I was, reading this article made me smile ear to ear. The title was 13 Things your Arborist won’t tell you. This article made some great points, but there are a few problems. I’m an arborist, and I have been telling this information to potential customers for years. The piece I’m writing is to not only praise the author, Michelle Crouch, but to play the devil’s advocate a little bit. I’m going to only take excerpts out of her article, so in order to get the full story please read her’s first. Michelle also added 10 more things an arborist won’t tell you to her article. I will not be answering those additional 10. Lets run down the list and see what I have to say.

1. Routinely pruning your trees every three to five years is not necessary,
My Answer: Yes, native trees should almost never require pruning. In our fast paced hustle bustle society, trees require pruning to stay out of our way. Tree’s are pruned for people reasons. Unlike native trees, a lot of trees we have in the North Jersey Area are cultivated trees. These trees actually require pruning to maintain their shape and beauty. If these trees are not maintained they can fail, or revert back to their native state. View the pictures to the right.

2. 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.
My Answer: Perfect! Mushrooms can only grow on dead tissue. Anytime a mushroom, or conk, is spotted further inspection is needed. Notice in the picture to the left. The mushrooms are growing on the dead tissue inside the tree and not on the living tissue towards the outside.
3. 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.
My Answer: This has been one of my biggest selling points for years. My bucket truck is over $100,000. My chipper is $60,000. The cheapest chainsaw I have is $600. Ropes that I use run from $150 – $400. That is just there to throw some numbers out.
4. 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?”
My Answer: This one I don’t agree with much. Winter rates were developed years ago and should have never been created. It was done this way to keep tree companies busy. The truth of the matter is, the best time to do most tree work is in winter. When a tree is dormant, the damaging effects of pruning and certain other practices are minimized.
5. Ask your “tree expert” if he or she is certified.
My Answer: Absolutely correct. People throw around the word “expert” or “arborist” to give them self credibility. The word they don’t include is “certified”. When that word is added, it changes the whole meaning. For more information read my previous post on ISA Certified Arborist / NJ CTE what’s the difference.
6. 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.
My Answer: This is also correct. My photo library is riddled with pictures of soft wooded trees cracking under snow.
7. If someone offers to “top” your tree 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.
My Answer: Absolutely, topping should never be done. The correct way is to crown reduce. View my previous post on crown reduction here.
8. Never hire an arborist who uses any kind of climbing spikes, unless he’s taking the tree down.
My Answer: I can’t stress how true this is. Most “arborists” today climb trees with spikes because they simply don’t know how to climb without them. Also, climbing with spikes makes the job easier, and quicker. The tree is not in the best interest of the company, but getting the job done quickly is.
9. 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.
My Answer: Yes, this is a good idea. Just make sure to call a credible company. Check for experience and qualifications. There are too many tree companies out there in my opinion, and most of them are unqualified.

10. Be wary of people who knock on your door and say they want to trim your tree. Good arborists don’t need to canvas neighborhoods looking for customers.
My Answer: This is true in part. I have had to knock on my fair share of doors though. When working or just driving through a neighborhood I have spotted potential hazards that normal people would overlook. Tree guys are trained to look at trees, it’s our job. View the two pictures. The first picture is a tree I saw while working at a neighboring house. The second picture I saw driving down a busy street.
11. 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.
My Answer: I never actually got upset at someone telling me I cleaned up well. I take pride in every area of my work. The ground is the first thing a customer sees. A nice cleanup shows the quality of the company’s workmanship. If the cleanup is nice, the trees will also be nice.
12. 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.
My Answer: Right again, but I’ve never called it a mulch volcano. 2 to 4 inches of mulch is recommended, but never up against the trunk.
13. I once hung a swing for a client from a branch 35 feet off the ground. And I’ve rescued a few cats too.
My Answer: I have saved cats, hung up swings, and even caught a parrot for a client. Not once, but the same parrot twice.
This article was not only informative, but showed me that there are other people who care about the tree care industry. So once again, thank you Michelle Crouch for writing this article. Your audience is much larger than mine. If you haven’t yet read her article you can find it at the link below. Also check the additional link on her page for 10 more things an arborist won’t tell you.

13 Things your Arborist won’t tell you

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