Maintaining Tree Health

Property owners are encouraged to have trees on their property assessed for storm, insect, disease, and age-related decline every few years to maintain the trees in a safe and healthy condition. The assessment should be performed by a qualified licensed arborist by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). As the summer storm season is upon us, now is a good time to have mature trees inspected and any recommended tree work performed. In the event a storm causes tree damage to trees on your property, knowing where to find a prescreened list of licensed tree contractors can be helpful.

Here is a handy checklist, that can be referred to when looking to hiring a tree contractor:

  • Is the Company licensed to work in the State of Maryland? Tree contractors that work in the State of Maryland are required to be licensed by Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Before hiring a recommend contractor, property owners should do some research to verify the company they are considering is licensed. Check out Licensed Tree Expert Information for more information.
  • If a tree is suspected of having an insect or disease problem, which may require treatment, the company selected to perform a pesticide application treatment will need to be licensed by the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Licensed companies are required to have a certified pesticide applicator on staff. Technicians who are supervised by a licensed certified applicator must also be registered to work in the State of Maryland. Pesticide applicators and technicians are required to carry their identification card with them when applying pesticides. Residents have the right to ask to see these documents. See Pesticide Applicator Certification and Business Licensing Requirements.
  • All tree companies and pesticide applicators in the State of Maryland are required to carry insurance. See the above link for Pesticide Application insurance requirements. Residents should hire companies that carry liability and workers compensation insurance to protect themselves during the course of planned work. A properly insured contractor will have liability coverage for damages that may occur while work is in progress. Workers compensation insurance will cover injuries to the tree contractor employees working on the property. If a property owner fails to hire a company that is insured or does not carry the proper levels of insurance the property owner may be liable for property damage or personal injuries that occur during the contracted tree work.
  • Does the company have an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist on staff? Arborists who are ISA Certified have completed required arboriculture classes and have passed the certification examination. All ISA certified arborists are required to take continuing education classes to maintain certification.

After selecting a few tree contractors to request a proposal from, a property owner should consider the following:

  • Request a minimum of three written bids or proposals for the desired tree work. Carefully review the scope of work to be performed. Are the proposals within a close price range. Question the reason why a proposal may be much higher or lower than competitors.
  • Review details of what the contractor plans to do. This should be written on the bid or proposal. Debris clean-up and removal should be included in the proposal. Stump removal can be itemized separately.
  • Ask for, and check references.
  • Complete the City of College Park free application for a tree removal permit if the tree is 36 inches or greater in circumference measured at breast height, or the tree will have significant live wood pruned. Obtain an approved permit prior to the start of planned tree work.
  • Consider when the maintenance or tree removal will be done. Winter is a slower season for the tree care industry, which may result in lower charges for services performed. The preferred time of year to prune deciduous trees is when the leaves have fallen off the trees and the tree structure is visible.
  • If you have a wood burning stove and would like to have the resulting wood from the contracted tree work, check to see if the wood can be cut into fireplace length sections.
  • Do you have a need for the wood chips on your property or in your garden?
  • Inquire what the tree company does with the wood removed? There is a growing urban wood repurposing industry. Local artists may use the wood for items such as cutting boards or furniture.

From the City's Tree and Landscape Board