10 Tips in Choosing the Right Arborist
A Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners in Australia
Hiring a professional tree arborist in Australia can be tricky.
With so many options to choose from, how do you know you’re getting the best person for the job?
As a homeowner, you want someone highly qualified to care for your landscape investment.
This comprehensive guide covers the top 10 things to look for when hiring the best tree arborist.
Hiring an Inexperienced Arborist Can Damage Your Trees
As storm season approaches, you notice some dangerously overgrown branches on trees around your property. Large limbs look ready to fall at any moment. You want to get them trimmed before they cause damage, but aren’t sure where to start. Hiring the wrong person could harm your trees or cost you more down the road. Improper trimming by an inexperienced tree lopper leaves trees vulnerable to disease and insects. An arborist without proper training may improperly cut your trees, leaving lasting damage. You need someone qualified for the job.
How to Find a Reputable and Skilled Tree Arborist
Hiring a knowledgeable arborist invested in proper tree care ensures your landscaping stays healthy. Use this list of top things to look for when hiring the best tree arborist:
1. Proper Certifications and Qualifications
Make sure any potential arborist holds professional certifications proving their qualifications. Some key credentials include:
- Qualified Arborist – Indicates comprehensive training and experience in arboriculture. Look for Qualified Arborists certified through Arboriculture Australia.
- Licensed Tree Surgeon – Arborists with this title have advanced expertise in the tree industry. Tree Surgeons Australia provides licensing and promotes industry standard practices.
- International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certification – Arborists certified through ISA complete rigorous testing to demonstrate proper tree care knowledge. ISA offers several levels of credentials.
- Degree in Arboriculture or Related Field – Seek arborists who hold university degrees related to tree and landscape care. This educational background provides in-depth, science-based expertise.
2. Industry Experience and Membership
Choose an arborist with ample hands-on experience. Those involved with professional organizations stay up to date on the latest techniques and safety practices. Ideal candidates:
- Have 5+ years of experience as practicing arborists.
- Are active members in key industry groups.
3. Proper Licensing and Insurance
Reputable arborists have all legally required licensing and insurance coverage:
- Business License – Required to operate. Shows they are a legitimate tree service business.
- Public Liability Insurance – Protects against property damage or injury caused during work. Insured arborists show responsibility.
- Workers Compensation Insurance – Covers costs if a worker gets injured on the job. This protects you from liability.
- Local Permits – Some tree work requires specific local permits. An arborist should know and obtain needed permits.
4. Safety Practices and Compliance
A diligent arborist will:
- Strictly follow Australian Standard AS 4373 for tree pruning. This ensures work is done safely and correctly.
- Use proper safety gear and techniques to protect you, your property, and themselves.
- Avoid using tree climbing spikes except when removing a tree, as spikes damage healthy trees.
- Follow industry standard practices on pruning cuts and techniques per Arboriculture Australia.
5. Diverse Service Offerings
Look for an arborist who provides a wide range of services, including:
- Tree trimming and pruning
- Emergency storm damage cleanup
- Tree removal service and stump grinding
- Affordable tree lopping
- Pest and disease control
- Planting and transplanting trees
- Land clearing and brush removal
- Customized landscape design
Choose someone offering what you need. Beware of arborists providing only 1 or 2 basic services.
6. Modern Equipment and Technology
Seek arborists using the latest gear and tree maintenance technology, such as:
- Climbing and rigging gear for safe access high up in trees
- Chainsaws, lifts, and cranes for large tree work
- Mulchers, wood chippers, and stump grinders to dispose of debris
- Trucks with aerial lift buckets to reach tall branches
- Software to accurately assess type of trees and job costs
This shows a substantial investment in their professional tree service business.
7. Strong Knowledge About Trees
A quality arborist will:
- Correctly identify tree species on your property and their care needs.
- Understand how diseases, pests, and weather impact local tree species.
- Provide specific solutions tailored to your landscape’s tree species.
- Answer your questions knowledgeably. If unsure, they should research to determine the answer.
This expertise ensures your trees get appropriate care.
8. Attention to Safety and Precision
The best arborists work deliberately and with a safety-first focus:
- They will deny service if a tree presents excessive safety risks. Ethical arborists won’t compromise safety just to complete a job.
- They use rope and harness systems for working off the ground. Climbing spikes are used only when removing trees.
- Work is performed precisely, carefully, and systematically. They don’t rush through jobs.
Choose someone who prioritizes doing the job well and safely over speed.
9. Good Communication Skills
An arborist should clearly communicate:
- Their evaluation of your trees’ health and needs
- The specific work they recommend and why it’s necessary
- How they will perform required services step-by-step
- Activity risks and how they’ll mitigate them
- Fair and reasonable pricing with no hidden fees
They should answer any questions you have and address concerns.
10. Trustworthy Work Ethic and Professionalism
Look for arborists who:
- Are open about their qualifications, certifications, and expertise when asked
- Give detailed quotes with reasonable pricing
- Are insured and willing to show proof
- Have a professional website, email, uniforms, and labeled trucks
- Provide local references from happy past clients
This shows they operate reputably and transparently.
Frequently Asked Questions
What qualifications should an arborist have?
At minimum they should have certification through ISA or Arboriculture Australia. Additional credentials like Qualified Arborist or Tree Surgeon license indicate advanced expertise. Relevant college degrees are also ideal.
How much does it cost to hire an arborist in Australia?
Average rates range from $50 – $100 per hour depending on qualifications and services provided. Get quotes from several arborists to compare pricing. Beware unusually low rates that likely indicate underqualified arborists.
When do I need a permit for tree removal in Australia?
Rules vary by local council, but in general you need a permit for removing trees deemed significant due to size, age, history, or environmental impact. Your arborist should know which trees require permits. Check with your local council regarding regulations.
What types of insurance should an arborist have?
At minimum they need public liability of at least $10 million and workers compensation insurance. Policies protecting your home and property are also ideal.
I hope this guide gives you a clear process for evaluating arborists and identifying the best tree company for your tree care needs.
Taking the time to carefully hire an experienced, ethical, and safety-focused arborist means your landscape stays healthy and beautiful for years to come.
Let me know if you have any other questions.