Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between an arborist and a certified arborist?
A: Arborists are trained professionals that are knowledgeable and equipped to provide proper tree care. They are specially trained to provide a variety to services to maintain trees. ISA Certified Arborists are individuals who have achieved a level of knowledge in the art and science of tree care through at least three years of experience and have passed a comprehensive examination. They are also required to continue their education in order to maintain their certification, ensuring their knowledge is updated on the latest arboriculture techniques. ISA Arborist Certification is a non-governmental voluntary process that operates without mandate of law. It is an internal self-regulating device administered by the International Society of Arboriculture, and therefore, cannot guarantee or assure the quality of performance. Certification provides a measurable assessment of an individual's knowledge and competence required to provide proper tree care.

Q: Why are trees beneficial?
A: Trees provide a variety of benefits besides environmental, such as social, community, and economic. Trees provide an array of benefits, including:

  • Cost Reduction? reduces yearly heating and cooling costs by 2.1 billion dollars
  • Increase Property Value? well-cared landscape properties are 5-20% more valuable than non-landscaped estates.
  • Privacy and Scenery, aesthetic values

The following facts are results from studies conducted by UIUC Human-Environment Research Laboratory:

  • Fewer Crimes? apartment buildings surrounded by trees and greenery are dramatically safer than buildings devoid of green
  • Improves Concentration- children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are relieved after contact with nature. The greener the setting, the more the relief.
  • Sound Barrier- acts as sound barriers and provide protection against crowding, noise, and danger, which all can contribute to mental fatigue, and can help inner-city residents cope with the many poverty related-stresses

For more information on the benefits of trees, please visit Benefits of Trees and What Are Your Trees Worth.

Q: What type of tree should I buy?
A: Tree selection is one of the most important investment decisions for a homeowner. First, examine the location conditions of where you want your tree to be planted. Take the following into consideration before selecting the tree species you want:

  • Amount of space
  • Clearance from overhead and underground utilities
  • Weather conditions
  • Tree functions you desire
  • Exposure to sun and wind
  • The quality

Then, utilize the information you have gathered and select the tree species that works best with the conditions. For assistance, contact your local ISA Certified Arborist, tree care professional, or garden center to plant the right tree in the right place.

For more information on selecting and purchasing trees, please visit Tree Selection and Buying High-Quality Trees.

Q: How should I plant my tree?
A: Location conditions are extremely important and vital to a tree's health. Be sure to examine the tree location conditions and follow these steps when planting your new tree:

  • Dig a shallow, broad hole: only as deep at the root ball, but 3x's as wide in diameter
  • Identify the trunk flare: this is where the roots spread at the base of the tree. This should be partly visible after planting.
  • Place the tree at the proper height: majority of the roots should be within 12" of the soil.
  • Straighten the tree in the hole
  • Fill hole, gently but firmly
  • Stake the tree, if necessary
  • Mulch the base of the tree
  • Maintain with follow-up care

For more information on tree planting, please visit New Tree Planting.

Q: How often does my tree need care?
A: The type and frequency of tree care depends on the species, age, location, climate, and other factors that affect the tree's growth. The first step is to educate yourself about your trees and understand their needs. It is imperative to understand that proper tree care is a life long process, and that planting and caring for a tree is a long-tern commitment, not just a one time deal. Contact your local tree care professional for proper assistance.

Q: What is pruning a tree?
A: Pruning is the cutting or removing branches or parts of trees or for improving the shape or growth of trees. This is the most common tree maintenance procedure. Usually, trees are pruned preventative or as a corrective measure to remove dead branches, crowded or rubbing limbs, eliminate hazards, and increase light and air penetration. Since each cut to a tree has the potential to change the growth, it is important to educate yourself, considering no branch should be removed without any reason.

For more information on pruning the proper techniques, please visit Pruning Young Trees for young trees and Pruning Mature Trees for mature trees.

Q:What is topping a tree?
A: Topping is the indiscriminate cutting of tree branches to stubs or lateral branches that are not large enough to assume the terminal role. Other names for topping including "heading," "tipping," "hat-racking," and "rounding over."

Topping is perhaps the most harmful tree pruning practice known. It is usually done to reduce the size of a tree. Often, homeowners top their trees because they feel that they have become too large for their property and are a hazard. However, topping will make a tree more hazardous in the long term and is very harmful to the health of a tree.

For more information on topping, visit Why Topping Hurts Trees.

Q: What is mulching?
A: Mulches are materials placed over the soil surface to maintain moisture. Mulching is extremely beneficial to trees. It can reduce water loss from soil, minimize weed competition, and improve soil structure. Properly applied, mulch gives landscapes a health dose of benefits for your trees.

For more information on proper mulching techniques, please visit Proper Mulching Techniques.

Q: What should I do if I think my tree has insect and/or disease problems?
A: As soon as you notice any abnormality in your tree's appearance, you should begin a careful examination of the problem. Insects and diseases can threaten a tree's health. By identifying the specific symptoms of damage and understanding the causes, you may be able to diagnose the problem and take appropriate actions for treatment. You should contact a tree care professional for assistance immediately.

For more information on insect and/or disease symptoms, diagnosis, causes, and treatment, please visit Insects & Disease Problems.

Q: Can trees be hazardous?
A: Trees are essential to our world, offering a wide range of benefits to our environment. However, trees become hazardous liabilities if they fall and injure people or damage property. Proper constant maintenance will help prevent and identify when a tree becomes dangerous. Evaluating the seriousness of a trees condition is best done by a professional ISA Certified Arborist.

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