— Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie’s List, which offers consumer reviews on everything from home repair to health care.
Trees add beauty, shade and value to your property, but they don’t live forever. Sources of damage or death include age, storm damage, drought or other extreme weather, and environmental issues.
Top-rated tree experts tell our team that trees, like other living creatures, need good nutrition, a healthy environment and periodic care, including, for some, pruning in late fall or winter when insects are dormant and sap isn’t running.
If you’re worried that one of your trees might be on its last limb, consider consulting an experienced, reputable tree doctor.
“Arborist” is actually the proper term for professionals who are trained in tree planting and care.
The following are signs that a tree should be examined by a pro:
• Bark that forms bumps or is split, cracked or peeling
• Dead branches near the top of the tree
• Fungus growing around the trunk, mushrooms forming around roots or twigs growing from the trunk
• Leaves appearing later than usual
• Leaves falling off earlier than normal
• Discolored leaves or leaves without veins or with odd nodules
An arborist may conduct a variety of tests to determine the best course of action, including a soil analysis.
For proper growth, trees need soil that contains a particular balance of 15 mineral elements. The arborist may also test soil acidity or alkalinity. Fertilizer or soil amendments may make the soil a healthier tree environment.
Sometimes, no treatment is enough to save a tree. Reasons for removing one include serious root or trunk problems or structural defects that could cause the tree to topple in a high wind.
If you’re thinking of hiring an arborist, contact well-reviewed local tree service companies and ask if they have an arborist on staff.
Consider the individual’s level of education, certification and experience, as well as the company’s online reputation with other consumers.
Organizations that provide professional accreditation include the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) and the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA). You can typically confirm a local arborist’s credentials through such organizations’ websites.
Also, make sure the company you hire provides proof of liability and workers compensation insurance. Ask for references, check them and get all important details in writing.
Costs for arborist services vary widely. Some initial consultations may be offered free; other times, companies charge a fee, such as $75, for an inspection. If a tree must be removed, the cost is often based on height and accessibility. Angie’s List members reported paying from $400 to several thousand dollars to have a tree removed.