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Tree Talk - Metropolitan Forestry Services

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March 10, 2022

Bad Tree Work: Warning Signs

dead tree in St. Louis Misourri

Recently, there has been a spike of noticeably bad arboricultural work in the St. Louis area. This is because small landscape companies with no certified arborists on staff are performing this work. Claiming false credentials, they come across as trustworthy individuals that want to take care of your trees. In reality, they likely don’t know what is best for the trees. Consequentially, homeowners may pay hundreds to even thousands of dollars for improper and arboriculturally unacceptable work. Often, the trees will be harmed and stressed by the inappropriate work. They become vulnerable to pests and diseases and pose a greater risk of damage to your family or property.

Some Warning Signs

  • You receive a knock on your door or a door hanger that tells you all of the problems your trees and shrubs have. If they are canvasing for work, they are probably diversifying their regular landscaping work to supplement their slow seasons. This is especially common during the winter. They are not specialists, and they are definitely not trained and certified arborists.
  • They quote a job and ask for immediate payment before the work is completed.
  • If asked, they are “fully insured” (which is unattainable for any tree company), they have no insurance, or they don’t provide their employees with worker’s compensation insurance.
Horribly Lion-tailed tree in St. Louis.
Topped trees in Ladue.
A tree showing signs of a climber who used boot spikes to climb it. Notice the open wounds on the bark.

Ways you can avoid these problems

  • Ask about their certifications. If they are not an ISA certified arborist, they likely won’t know what they need to know to properly care for your trees.
  • If their first response is to remove the tree, be skeptical. The holistic approach of Plant Health Care, which seeks to preserve your trees, provides many options to preserve your valuable mature trees. Most companies, especially landscapers, cannot practice this method because they lack certified arborists and a Plant Health Care department trained to properly diagnose and accurately treat your trees.
  • Inquire about their plan of action. A reliable tree company will be upfront and honest with you about the job before it has begun.
  • Research the company you choose and see what work they’ve done before. Look at reviews as that reveals a lot about a company.
  • Learn what bad tree work like lion-tailing and tree topping looks like. Unfortunately, many homeowners recognize these as normal arboricultural practices mainly because they are so prevalent. In reality, these practices are some of the worst things you can do to a tree.
  • Talk to family, friends, and peers about recommendations for companies they used and their experience with them. A good reference is helpful in finding the right company for your property.

As the homeowner, you can find a reliable and reputable tree company to hire for your tree work. Your trees are valuable assets and they should be treated as such. Contact a certified arborist for a consultation.

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Our goal is to provide you with the best possible service. If you are not satisfied with any treatment or completed job, we will resolve the situation to your satisfaction. We want to do our utmost to ensure your trees and shrubs are always 'green and growing'.