Are you bonded and insured?

-          Bonding is one of the phrases that is often used incorrectly.  It requires a third party to “insure” that a company is going to follow through on its obligations to the customer.  A bond is secondary insurance and requires either a relationship with a bonding company that issues bonds with short notice, or, filling out of financial statements and applications so that a bonding company is comfortable with issuance of a bond.  Generally a bond is not required in our industry unless the contract is for a long-term obligation.  Currently The Arborist Inc. is bonded to the City of Falls Church for licensure.  If a company is bonded, it is an indicator of stability.

-          Insurance for a business has two major categories:

o   Liability insurance covers damages caused by the company in its operation.  Generally this insurance is based on payroll of the company and is not difficult to attain.  The Arborist Inc. carries above average coverage.

o   Workers compensation insurance is by far the more important insurance for our industry.  The insurance is payroll based and has a substantial cost.  The state of Virginia mandates the limits of coverage and requires it for any operation with more than 3 employees (many companies operate illegally in this respect).  It must also be categorized in the correct way for “tree pruning and removal” for the insurer to pay any claims.  A way some companies try to lower their rate is by categorizing their operation as landscaping.

-          The Arborist Inc. is both bondable and fully insured.

-          If you have any doubts about insurance, you may have a certificate of insurance issued to you prior to the start of work and after a contract is signed.  A certificate of insurance will have your name and address on it and specifically shows that you are covered. 

  Are you licensed?

-          The state of Virginia does not require either a contractor’s license or a professional license for a tree service under normal contract amounts.  The Arborist Inc. posseses a class A Virginia contractor's license #2705 137755A. The City of Falls Church does require a professional occupation license for a tree service, which The Arborist Inc. does keep current.  The state of Maryland has a professional license requirement for individuals that are engaged in the tree industry.  The Maryland license is issued to an individual and The Arborist Inc. has a Maryland licensed arborist on staff.

-          Another possible meaning of licensure is that the business has a business license issued by a local jurisdiction.  The Arborist Inc. has a business license in the City of Manassas Park.


Are you certified?

-          Certification is a professional achievement.  Currently the industry has 3 major certification programs for individuals.  The certification that is most recognized is the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certification program.  The program is currently being revised and new levels added.  The Arborist Inc. has an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist on staff.  The National Arborist Association (NAA) and The American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA) also have certification programs.

-          It is advised that certification be taken into consideration when selecting a company.  Being certified means that an individual has knowledge of current good practices.  It does not necessarily indicate that they use only the current good practices.  The ISA does not monitor the activities of their certified arborists and doesn't guarantee their activities.  To attain certified status, one only needs to pass a test.  To maintain board certification for the ISA, one only needs to be educated for a total of 20 hours per year.


Is my tree too big?

-          Houses are normally 20-30 feet tall; trees frequently grow to heights more than 70 feet.  Trees dwarf houses normally.

-          If a tree has grown to its normal height in a normal way in a consistent environment, its height will be structurally provided for in its roots and stem.  One should worry if the environment has radically changed or someone has modified the structure of the tree by topping or excavating around the major roots.


Should this tree be pruned or removed?

-          A tree takes a long time to grow; therefore, any decisions about removal should not be approached lightly.

-          If a tree is close to an interface, like a house or thoroughfare, and pruning on a 3 to 5 year cycle is not an acceptable level of maintenance, the tree should be removed.

-          If the tree has major defects and a target – the tree should be removed. This includes major portions of the tree being dead.

-          Pruning is recommended to address clearance issues, light penetration issues and minor structural/aesthetic flaws.


Can you cut more off?

-          If the professional stops cutting there is probably a good reason.

-          20% is the maximum amount of leaf surface area that we will remove in a pruning operation.  More is unwise, particularly for mature trees or for trees in poor condition.


What is included in the price?

-          Professional workmanship and interaction.

-          What is in writing on the contract – see terms and conditions.

-          Disposal of limb chip.  Wood > 3” and stump grindings are charged separately.

-          Cutting and stacking of wood in rounds in close proximity to the work.  Splitting or moving of the wood is charged separately.

-          Repair of divots in the lawn – usually minor not including seeding (too many types of grass possible).

-          Thorough cleanup of yard – usually only minor amounts of saw dust remain.


Is this good firewood?

-          ALL WOOD WILL BURN !!  - Provided that it is properly dried.

-          FOR A FIREPLACE

o   Maple & Ash – very good firewood, ignites very easy and burns fairly quick.  Low ash.

o   Poplar – similar to maple, but makes a lot of noise.  Low ash.

o   Pine – has many good features like maple and poplar with aroma of pine during the burn.  Does not store well outside.  Some have the worry that the wood creates a problem with creosote.  This should not be a concern if one maintains correct burning conditions and maintains their flue. 

-          FOR A WOODSTOVE

o   Oak – Most asked for firewood.  Burns hot and long but does not ignite easily.  If burning in a fireplace, must have heated flue and bed of coals to get it to burn.  Low ash.

o   Hickory – Burns similar to oak.  Has pleasant odor.  Very high ash.

o   Locust – Hottest burning wood.  Similar to oak in other respects.