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Tree Talk - Metropolitan Forestry Services

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September 29, 2019

Save your trees – Hire an Arborist

2019 has been a disturbing time to be an Arborist in St. Louis. Driving around the city, we see horrifying examples of the most dangerous and damaging threat to trees – HUMANS.  Big, beautiful, mature trees that we will never again see the likes of in our lifetime, being lion-tailed or topped.  Incorrect and ineffective methods and products used to treat trees and prevent EAB. Diseases misdiagnosed.  Trees mistakenly taken down.  Trees being dropped on homes by unskilled companies.  Construction projects without protection plans damaging trees.  Tree services paid for up front and jobs left unfinished or not all.  Improper planting practices cause new landscapes to suffer.  And all this just in the last month!

Most problems for trees are caused by PEOPLE!

  • Planting the wrong tree in the wrong place
  • Planting too shallow or too deep
  • Too much water or too little water
  • Mower and weed eater abuse to trunks and root flares
  • Mulch volcanoes
  • Putting foreign materials in or around the tree
  • Herbicide or chemical damage
  • Incorrect, harmful and irreparable pruning practices
  • Construction around tree root zones
  • Grade changes

How does this happen?

In your line of work; perhaps you are a teacher? You have to have a significant amount of experience and education before you are considered for a position.  As a lawyer or a doctor you will go through years of schooling, followed by internships and practical training. Then required to obtain a license or professional certification before you can practice and once you being your chosen profession, there are rigid standards that must be adhered to and oversight bodies to enforce safe and lawful behavior.  This is not the case with the tree care, lawn, or landscaping industries.

If you decided tomorrow you wanted to start:

  • a tree company – all you would need to do is pick up a chainsaw and get in your pickup truck and start knocking on doors!
  • a landscape company – grab a shovel and fill up your truck with mulch and start planting trees!
  • a lawn care company – start up your mower and head out the door!

There are no barriers to entry into these industries. No regulatory agency to ensure you know how to use that chainsaw, let alone safely. Uninformed and unsuspecting homeowners assume: This guy works on my yard or landscape, so he must know how to take care of my trees – right?  Wrong.  Arboriculture is a specialized science that very different from lawn care or landscaping.


When comparing estimates for tree service, clients often ask why there is such a vast difference in tree care quotes.    Experience. Education. Training. Knowledge. Scientific Aptitude. Safety.  That is the difference.

  • Have a CERTIFIED ARBORIST consult on your trees – problems, pruning and removals
  • CHECK and verify that Arborist’s credentials here at the International Society of Arboriculture
  • DO NOT allow work to be done on your property without a signed contract and scope of work.
  • Make sure you understand what work is going to be done and how your property will look when they are finished.
  • ASK for a CERTIFICATE of INSURANCE with you listed as the certificate holder
  • Make sure they have workers compensation insurance
  • If a tree company using SPIKES or GAFFs to climb your live trees – CHASE THEM OFF YOUR PROPERTY!
  • If someone knocks on your door asking to take a tree down or trim your tree, or happens to stop by to give you an ominous diagnosis of a dreaded disease killing trees in the neighborhood – SLAM THE DOOR.
  • If a company has to go door to door, or put up signs at an intersection there is a reason they have to do that and others do not.
  • DO NOT pay for any portion of tree service ahead of time.
  • If they do not have safety gear on – do not let them work on your property
  • If something feels wrong, ask questions!
  • Check the St. Louis Arborist Association to find a reputable company

See our PDF Fact Sheet about Lion-Tailing pruning.

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