Selecting a Qualified Arborist

Gardening Information

Trees are usually the most valuable part of your landscape, for the shade they provide, aesthetics they provide, and for the amount of time it takes to replace a loss. Therefore shopping around for the right arborist is well worth the investment, and only requires a little prior planning.

The best option for locating qualified arborists in Utah is through the International Society of Arboriculture, Certified Arborist Program. Utah has many arborists who are certified through the ISA. To locate a certified arborist in your area, see the ISA Website. Certified arborists must pass an intense exam and annually submit proof on continuing education credits. Typically, not all arborists in a company are certified; be sure to request an arborist whose certification is current and ask to see their certification.

Being a Certified Arborist will not in itself assure a quality job. As with hiring any contractor it is important that you interview and check references before signing a contract. Some potential questions are: "What is 'included bark' and why is that a problem?" (For a brief description of included bark see the 'When should I cut back and Prune' article), or "Why are flush cuts harmful to my tree?", or "Why is topping harmful to my tree?". A good arborist will educate you on the proper care of trees and the harmful effects of improper pruning. An arborist with a high code of ethics will walk away from a job that requires topping. This is the person you want to care for your trees!

Some other helpful tips:

It is also important to make sure the company you hire is insured. Request a copy of their insurance coverage and do not permit work to start on your property without that verification. The needed coverage will be dependent on the work being performed. For example, an arborist we use maintains liability coverage of $200,000 general and $100,000 personal.

Most states, including Utah, DO NOT have State-run programs for testing or licensing arborists, therefore a company claiming to be ‘licensed’ in Utah is most likely referring to a simple business license.

Work performed within 10' of an energized conductor (power utility line) must be performed by a Certified Line Clearance Arborist. "Utah's Overhead Line Safety Act" requires Power Utilities to ‘safety zone’ trees, or make situations safe, for those that need to work in close proximity to their facilities. This includes safety zoning a tree, temporarily moving conductors or de-energizing and grounding the line. This law also requires that any person or contractor that has to work within 10 feet of overhead conductors to notify the Power Utility in advance of their plans.

Only employees working for the contractor, currently contracted with your local Power Utility, may work on or near energized conductors. These Certified Line Clearance Arborists receive continuing training concerning the hazards and safe practices of working near energized conductors. Their equipment is ANSI approved for working near energized conductors, dielectrically tested on a regular schedule, inspected, maintained and replaced regularly as needed. Private tree trimmers and home owners have been killed or seriously injured while working close to energized conductors.

If you have work that needs to be performed within 10' of an energized conductor, be sure to contact your Power Utility in advance.

For more information contact the Utah Community Forest Council / International Society of Arboriculture Utah Chapter

801.585.0556 | 300 WAKARA WAY, SALT LAKE CITY, UT 84108
Copyright © Red Butte Garden