Trees down? What you need to know before calling a tree care specialist

Wind with drenching rains can create hazardous trees. Photo: DNR
Wind with drenching rains can create hazardous trees. Photo: DNR

Does your yard resemble a ‘war zone’ of downed trees and limbs after the storm? The recent storm in Washington wreaked havoc on some trees, but DNR advises caution in dealing with the aftermath of the storm.

Arborists can be in great demand after a wind storm. With this past weekend’s high winds and rain-saturated soils, many healthy trees are affected. If you’re lucky, it is possible that the storm removed the weakest limbs from your trees, and all you need to do now is make a clean pruning cut and clean up the debris.

If you’re unlucky and you have hazardous trees and/or limbs, then you may need help.

Tips for dealing with tree service companies

Here are some tips for finding a tree service company to deal with downed or damaged trees from the aftermath of storms:

  • Hire a company that is licensed, bonded, insured and employs International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborists. Although Washington requires tree service companies to register with the state, they are not required to follow proper pruning standards. They don’t even have to demonstrate knowledge of tree pruning to obtain a license.
  • Look for an arborist whose name and company are familiar to your community, even if that means waiting longer for service.
  • Beware of people who go door-to-door offering to prune trees or remove storm damage; their low prices could prove costly. Most reputable companies have business cards, truck signs, and even uniforms that represent a professional level of service.
  • Ask for references, and take your time to select a reputable company. Avoid hiring anyone who will ‘top’ a tree.

Do you have an overgrown tree or one that presents problems? Remember to use proper pruning techniques, and whatever you do, please don’t top those trees. Doing so will cause extra maintenance and safety problems in the future.

Beware of any contract that wants to top your trees. Topping – removing large branches and tops of trees – creates future hazards. A topped tree is much more likely to break in a storm than a tree that has a normal branch structure.

Remember, not all arborists are certified. Avoid being scammed by tree care services. Find ISA-certified arborists in your area on the website of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture.

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