Tips for Hiring an Arborist

Bright green needles on a dawn redwood tree.
Hiring an arborist to do tree work can be intimidating. Trees are a slow-growing resource and tree work can be expensive. To protect yourself and your trees, make sure to hire a professional arborist.
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Quick Tips for Hiring an Arborist

  • BEWARE of door knockers
  • Ask for proof of liability insurance
  • Ask for local references
  • Check for International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certification
  • Lowest estimates are not always the best
  • Get more than one estimate
  • Tree removal should be the last resort!
  • The person mowing the grass is probably not the same you want pruning your trees
  • Do your homework; the internet is a great tool
  • Always, always, always ask questions

Detailed Tips for Hiring an Arborist

  • Hire a reputable arborist who is licensed, bonded, and insured. The Oregon Landscape Contractors Board (LCB) requires an LCB license for companies to plant trees. See frequently asked questions about licensing and tree planting on the LCB website.
  • Ask family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers for recommendations, and look on the web and in the Yellow Pages under “Tree Service.” When you contact a company, find out if their arborists are certified through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). ISA certification demonstrates a willingness to keep current with the field of arboriculture. Some arborists are not certified, but still abide by the Tree Care Industry Association pruning standards. Learn more at the Pacific Northwest ISA website.
  • The City of Portland requires that all businesses be licensed. Call 503-823-5157 for verification.
  • State law requires contractor registration with the Oregon State Construction Contractors Board. Registration guarantees that the arborist is bonded and insured, protecting you in case the contractor you hire damages your property or fails to finish the job. Verify company registration by calling 503-378-4621.
  • Never let yourself be rushed into a so-called bargain (“If you sign today, I can take ten percent off…”). Check with neighbors and friends for recommendations.
  • Solicit estimates from multiple certified arborists. Two or more estimates are worth the extra effort, and many reputable companies provide estimates free of charge.

A Good Arborist Will...

  • Offer a wide range of services such as pruning, fertilizing, cabling/bracing, and pest control
  • Not recommend topping a tree, except under rare circumstances
  • Not be eager to remove a living tree. Removal is clearly a last resort
  • Not use climbing spikes unless removing the tree

View a List of Local Tree Care Providers