At JR’s Tree and Landscape, we are proud to say that we are certified arborists. But, what does it mean when someone can call themselves a Certified Arborist? We are happy to describe what certification involves, why it is essential, and how to find the right one for your needs.

The Certified Arborist credential is only for professional arborists who have at least three years of full-time experience in the tree care industry, and who have passed a rigorous exam on all the many aspects of arboriculture, the cultivation of trees and shrubs.

Since the 1980s, the Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) has administered the exams and provided certifications to qualified professionals in our region. As the professionals certified by the ISA proved to be valuable assets to their businesses and industry, the Western Chapter was absorbed by the national ISA organization.

Since then, the ISA has been able to add specialty certifications in things like Utility Specialist, who maintain vegetation around electric utility wires, as well as Municipal Specialist, for those with advanced experience managing public trees in urban areas. Finally, the ISA now offers the Board Certified Master Arborist certification for professionals with higher levels of knowledge, education, and experience.

The standard Certified Arborist exam has around two hundred questions on all things tree-related, including tree biology, identification and selection, nutrition, fertilization, and planting, as well as many other concepts. Once earned, certification is good for three years, during which the arborist must complete thirty continuing education credits to get re-certified. Credits are earned by attending seminars, taking college-level courses, or completing study through books and magazines published by the ISA.

Why a certified arborist matters

A certified arborist has met standards of study and achievement and continuing education, meaning that they are dedicated to arboriculture study. Hiring certified arborists means that you will receive exceptional service from an experienced and knowledgeable professional. Your trees will not be damaged or mangled, and every aspect of their care will be decided with your arborists’ expertise.

How to find the best one for you

The best arborist for you and your trees is the one that understands your needs. Every arborist is different, and any will be happy to answer any questions you have. However, in case you aren’t sure what to ask a potential arborist, here are some that you should consider:

How long have you been in business?

Although every business has to start somewhere, you may want to avoid new companies that are very new or employ inexperienced tree professionals. Ensure that the professionals caring for your trees have been in business for at least a decade. Ten years is a reasonable amount of time for a tree and landscape company to prove themselves to their community. If, in that time,
they have invested in themselves by becoming certified arborists, it is a good sign that they will provide the kind of service you deserve.

Do you employ any certified arborists?

Some tree and landscape companies subcontract their arborists. If you have a choice, work only with companies that have experienced and certified arborists on staff. JR’s Tree and Landscaping Company is proud to offer the services of our full-time certified arborists.

How will your company avoid damage to my property?

Any qualified tree service company will be prepared to answer this question. Protecting the property in and around their workspace is every competent arborists’ primary concern. Your prospective arborists should be able to explain the precautions they will take while working in your yard, from start to finish.

Can you tell me about your equipment?

A great tree service company will have every tool they need to get the job done. With the exception of cranes, the tree service company for you should not have to contract or rent the tools they need. They should be able to tell you if their equipment is OSHA certified and should have protective equipment for all their staff members. Things like broken down tools and old, damaged trucks should be big red flags. At JR’s Tree and Landscaping, we maintain all our tools and equipment and repair or replace broken or damaged gear as soon as possible.

Are you insured?

Insurance should be a top concern when looking for the right arborist for you. Although anyone can claim they are insured, you should do your due diligence and look for evidence of insurance in your prospective tree professionals. You can find it in your contract, and a reputable tree service company will happily tell you the details of their coverage.

Are you licensed?

You shouldn’t have to go hunting to find proof of your arborists’ credentials and licenses. They should be posted on their website, business cards, and company vehicles. Many will even be able to tell you their license numbers by memory!

Where can I find referrals or reviews of your business?

You should ask for professional referrals, as well as doing your own research online of recent reviews. The reviews you find on their site may be genuine but biased; do your due diligence and seek out a range of reviews over time and service. Reading a handful of reviews can give you a good idea of the kind of work they do, the type of service they provide. Even the bad reviews will give you a sense of how they handle problems and conflict.

As always, do your homework and ask around. At JR’s Tree Service and Landscape, we are happy to answer all these and more. Any qualified arborist, such as the professionals at JR’s Tree Service, will be glad to have an opportunity to share with you what they can do.

If you live in the San Gabriel Valley or anywhere near Pasadena and the surrounding communities, give us a call or send us an email to find out how we can put our expertise and love of trees and landscape to use for you!