As a master gardener volunteer with the OSU Extension Office, I was recently contacted by a local homeowner to assess the condition of an ornamental pear tree that had been pruned recently. For some reason the tree service who did the trimming had removed all but one of the branches up to about 15 feet. Some of the pruning cuts followed accepted practices, while some did not. The homeowner was also charged for application of fertilizer stakes and a spray for borers. I could find no evidence of any fertilizer stakes, spray, or borers.
When I asked the homeowner how he came to hire this particular tree trimmer from the Dayton area, he said the person just showed up in a pick-up truck and said he was in the neighborhood and noticed some dead branches and offered his services. Having only average knowledge about trees, the homeowner and his wife agreed to have the work done and paid the person — a decision they now regret.
We in the master gardener volunteer program have some recommendations for people considering have tree trimming, removal, or other landscaping work done.
1. Don’t hire someone who shows up at your door uninvited without doing some research.
2. Ask for proof that the company/individual in bonded and insured and has workmen’s compensation protection.
3. Ask for a written estimate that includes all work to be done, including clean up and disposal of trimmings, as well as a completion date.
4. Ask for local references who can attest to the quality the company’s work.
5. Seek estimates from several tree services; most willingly provide free estimates and references. If they won’t, look elsewhere.
6. Consider contacting an ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) certified arborist who must meet rigorous standards.
7. Do your due diligence by checking the references and perhaps even checking with the Better Business Bureau.
8. While the work is being done, periodically check to be sure the company is doing what you have agreed to.
9. You may be asked to pay for the work up front; you might agree to pay a portion, but wait until the job is completed per the written agreement before making the final payment.
Our master gardener volunteers and the Sidney Tree Board are co-sponsoring a free program about tree selection and care Tuesday, Sept. 17, from 6:30-7:45 p.m., at the Amos Memorial Public Library in Sidney. Brian Green, Sidney’s street superintendent/ISA certified arborist, will be the presenter. There will be free refreshments, handouts and a door prize.
The city is also conducting a tree sale until Sept. 27. This is a great opportunity to obtain a tree appropriate for this area at a very reasonable price. Contact the city of Sidney Service Center, 415 S. Vandemark Road, Sidney, Ohio 45365, for more information.
Shelby County master gardener volunteer
The writer is a master gardener volunteer with the OSU Extension Office.