Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Arborist

As you can see, this time of year can be busy for gardeners and people of landscaping.  It is so important to do your spring projects now before the summer heat arrives.  One of the things that can be difficult for people to do is find a reputable tree service to come and clean up their trees.  Sometimes people offer to do the job and are not qualified to do the work or they are qualified yet butcher the trees and plants. Here's my personal story.  When I moved onto the property, we had a landscaping service come and clean our property twice a month for 315 dollars. They cleaned the property well enough, but butchered the trees and plants. During several visits, they had lied to me about the irrigation drip system and smelled of alcohol.  Worst of all, dead trees were left on the property and they killed healthy ones!  My journey into the world of landscaping and intense studies began in 2007.  After one year, I was disgusted by what we were getting from this company.  They never arrived like they said they would. They never carried off plants that I properly pruned. And they didn't have a clue about what the plants in the landscape were called!  After one year, I wrote up a contract and presented it to the board.  It was a contract to reinvest money back into our property and take control of a place that was in bad shape. Once I was approved, we fired the company. At first, the work was slow and gradual....and I'll admit, time consuming....even frustrating because residents didn't really care or want to help out at the time.  Some would say, "That's why we're paying you."  Well this isn't the case.  The money doesn't pay for my services, but it does give me control over what needs to get done without having to ask for money all the time.  It comes regularly every month and I know that I have a certain amount of money to work with and save over the year for things like our arborist.

It came time to prune our live oaks but I was frightened that I would kill them.  They are the most beautiful things in Tucson.  They are the largest and rarest trees around town and I will fight to keep them protected even though they drop huge amounts of tree litter.  The trees needed pruning from years of neglect so I here's what I did.  First I called 3 different Arizona Tree Companies and had a list of questions for them.  Here are the things you need to consider when hiring your arborist......
1. Are they reputable?  Check reviews online; ask around
2. Are they certified?
3.  Do they look like they are honest and reputable people?
4.  Do they care about what you want, what they want, or do they care about the health of the tree?            (I'll explain about this more later)
5. What will they charge for the service?
6.  Do they know about the tree that they will be pruning?  Have they had experience with it before?

The reason I say three is so that you can negotiate the costly prices that go on with trimming trees. I remember interviewing each of the 3 companies here in Tucson.  One charged a lot more money because of their name and seemed indifferent about what he was doing.  The second gave me an estimate that was the cheapest.  And the third gave me an honest answer.  The third was my choice because he is passionate about what he does.  He also cares more about the trees and how to make them grow stronger and look better.  If you only knew how many times people complimented me on the canopy of the oak trees......and it was because of Angelo working his magic with his crew.  This is our third year working together and he has done amazing work on our property.  He's professional and really gets excited about the philosophy of pruning even talking about new techniques that were introduced last year. Who knew? He does and I trust him to do the work.  The one thing that Angelo told me that I won't forget....and he said it in a very polite way....we need to remember what's best for health of the tree.  I had wanted to cut branches off, which he did but in a way that was healthy for the oaks. I have the link if you need a good suggestion for a tree company.  I am not being endorsed or receiving any financial discount from this company.  I've just really enjoyed working with Angelo and Romeo Tree Service. Blogging should have some benefits, right?:)
 One last important note once you have chosen your arborist.  Please make sure you take the day off so that you can supervise the work or be around if they have any questions.  Remember that they are doing the work for you and not the other way are, afterall, paying them quite a bit of money to take care of your landscape....and you have to live with it after they are gone.  When I stay home, I watch how they do the job just so I can learn how the pros do it and it's quite educational for me.  Every year it's a new project.  It is also the same reason we could cut those trees down from the planters because we learned the rope technique guiding large limbs to the ground.  For me, it's a fun day.  When to prune?  Before the trees leaf out and for live oaks, which drop their leaves in February or March, it's still okay to around this time.  Most people wait until the end of January or beginning of February.  Spring here starts in March and you want to trim before the tree puts out new growth.  Until next time, I'll see you in the garden.

Sometimes, it comes down to the people when choosing a tree service.  Sometimes it comes down to someone who is passionate about what they do. Sometimes it comes down to the service that they provide. But most importantly, it should ALWAYS be about the health of your tree. Stay tuned for more....


  1. Sounds like you are right on track! Live oaks are easily one of my favorite trees.
    I trim most of my own trees except for the largest ones.
    David/ Tropical Texana

  2. I love oak trees! We have so many large really old ones in Northern, CA. It is really sad when I see some of them die. They put houses way to close to some of them and then they get too much water or disease and they die. My favorite tree around the corner from my house was actually pretty far off from the house but it still finally broke in half and fell on a house. Then it could not be saved and they cut it down. Such a sad day that was. It always made me so happy to see the new leaves in the spring.


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