Hiring the Right Arborist

Hiring the Right Arborist

Choosing the right arborist to maintain your trees can be a daunting task especially since arboriculture is an unregulated trade in Ontario.  This means that arborists do not require a license to practice unlike plumbers, electricians, and even hairstylists.

An arborist is a highly trained professional who has the knowledge and the technical skill to properly maintain trees.  The competent arborist understands that working safely is paramount in performing tree work as this is a high risk and dangerous profession.   Arborists generally follow professional standards and accepted arboricultural practices.  It is in the best interest for the consumer to be properly informed when selecting the right arborist and tree care company. 

Factors to consider when hiring an arborist:

Insurance:  Ask for proof of liability insurance and Worker Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) coverage. As the property owner, you do not want to be responsible for property damage or worker injuries.  Most reputable tree companies also carry Error and Omission Insurance (Professional Liability Insurance) which protects the contractor from negligence claims relating to professional conduct and practising standards.

Safety:  Reputable tree care companies invest time and money maintaining equipment, supplying workers with personal protective equipment, and providing regular safety training. Even through this industry is unregulated,  tree companies still must abide by Ministry of Labour safety standards and Ministry of Transportation regulations.

Professional Credentials:   Arborists often obtain accreditation through professional organizations despite the lack of provincial licencing.  The International Society of Arboriculture (I.S.A.) is the most widely recognized and accepted certifying body within the arboriculture industry. The I.S.A. certifies qualified practitioners who can obtain the following:  Board Master Certified Arborist, Certified Arborist, Certified Tree Worker, Utility Arborist, and Tree Risk Assessment Qualified.   Another highly regarded certification includes the American Society of Consulting Arborists.

Arborists can also obtain either a certificate or diploma in arboriculture from local colleges such as Humber College, Sir Sanford College, Algonquin College and Niagara College.  The Ontario College of Trades also offers an Arborist Apprenticeship program whereby the successful graduate receives a Certificate of Qualification. 

Industry Affiliations:    Arborists and tree companies that belong to professional associations such as the International Society of Arboriculture (I.S.A.), Ontario Commercial Arborists Association, Landscape Ontario, or  Tree Care Industry Association show dedication and willingness to comply with professional codes of conduct and ethics.

Professional Integrity:   A qualified arborist will adhere to accepted and sound arboricultural practises which promote tree health and structure.  Topping trees, leaving stubbed cuts, and using climbing spurs to prune trees are a few examples of unacceptable practises.  A good arborist will be able to forsake the client’s request if the work compromises tree health or weakens and damages tree structure.

References and Testimonials:  Don’t hesitate to ask for references or to look at home owner reviews sites such as HomeStars.