Face it, most people don't know a good tree trimming job when they see one. Let's spend a couple of minutes on the basics...

Q. Why do trees need trimming?

A. A well-trimmed tree is attractive, but more importantly, it will last longer. It’s important to remove dead wood from trees because wood-boring insects and wood-decaying fungi live in dead wood and spread from dead to living tissue. It is this decaying process that marks the beginning of the end for many trees. Removing the dead wood slows this process dramatically.

Thinning out the tree is also important so that wind can pass through without breaking off branches or blowing the entire tree down. Thinning also allows more sunlight to reach the lawn area below the tree, resulting in a thicker lawn.

Heavy horizontal branches are lightened up where necessary and roof and power lines are given ample clearance. A good tree trimming job will last many years.


Q. What should I look for in a good tree trimmer?

A. In Minnesota anyone can become a “licensed” tree trimmer as long as they pay local municipal fees to run a business. You may want more than that when it comes to hiring a tree service.

Just because someone can climb a tree with a chain saw doesn’t mean they know what to do (and what NOT to do) when they get there. Hiring a certified arborist is important. A tree trimmer that has a certification from the International Society of Arboriculture is your assurance that you have hired a trained professional.

This certification is recognized nationally as the premier trademark of expertise in tree care. It is acquired through extensive study and testing. Ongoing credits are required to keep the certification up to date. This keeps an arborist on top of the latest technology in tree care. It is your assurance that you have not hired an amateur.

Q. How much should I pay for a good tree trimming job?

A. As in most other purchases, you’ll get what you pay for. If you get more than one estimate you may find prices will vary greatly. I have had customers tell me that they can get the work done for a lot less than I would need to do the job. If you pay half price, you’ll only get half of your tree trimmed. Usually it’s the lower half. When the top of the tree is neglected storm damage is just down the road. The bottom line is…if you’re “saving” 50%, the cut-rate tree service is going to spend 50% less time in your tree. Having it done thoroughly and less often is going to save you money even though the initial investment may cost a little more.

Q. What liabilities do I have when my trees are being trimmed?

A. If you hire a fully insured tree service, you don’t have any. Tree trimming is dangerous work, and you need to protect yourself against liabilities. Always ask to see a current insurance certificate before the work begins. Many trimmers will tell you that they are insured when, in fact, they are not.

Hiring forestry students, uninsured tree services or anyone else to perform dangerous work on your property is sticking your neck out. A legitimate tree service will be happy to produce proof of insurance at the time of the estimate.