Providing Continuing Education for Louisiana Arborists

Louisiana Arborist Association


Around the home or along the avenue, trees are one of our most valuable assets. They are also a long-term investment. Like any investment our trees require careful decisions and the occasional advice and service of a professional. In the world of trees, arborists are the specialists who can safeguard your trees and save you from long-term consequences of their neglect or the wrong decision. This document will explain how you can judge when to call an arborist and how to select the right one.

                A neglected 
              shade tree
work of 
a poorly chosen
tree "expert".
    Work of a competent 


Arborists are the men and women who make a career of caring for the urban forest. Some arborists are self-employed, others work for tree care companies. Still others work for municipalities, utility companies or on college campuses. Some serve as consultants to planners, developers, insurance companies, public agencies and attorneys. For whomever they work, arborists are professionals concerned with the planting and care of trees. The areas in which arborists can help you include: planting, transplanting, pruning, fertilizing, pest management, and an array of other tree care practices. Most arborists are also skilled in tree removal and value appraisals.

Consulting arborists are a bit different. These experts offer advice, but usually not the actual tree services. They specialize in tree appraisals, diagnosing problems, recommending treatments and suggesting where to obtain competent service. They are often the "second opinion" before deciding on tree work, or the legal expert in court cases. As independent consultants, they are often called on the same way a financial planner is called on to map financial strategy rather than using a stockbroker or insurance agent who sells a product.


1. Check in the phone directory usually under Trees, Tree Service or Tree Care Service, which indicates some degree of permanence.

2. Beware of door-knockers. This is especially common after storms when non-professionals see a chance to earn some quick money.

3. Never let yourself be rushed by bargains such as, "If you sign an agreement today, I can take ten percent off the price..."

4. Ask to see his/her arborist's license. All practicing arborists must be licensed by the State of Louisiana.

5. Ask for certificate of insurance including proof of liability for personal and property damage, and workman's compensation. Then phone the insurance company to make certain the policy is current.

6. Ask for local references-other jobs the company has done. Take a look at some.

7. Determine if the arborist is a member of organizations such as the Louisiana Arborist Association. Membership does not guarantee quality, but lack of membership casts doubt on the person's professionalism.

8. Have more than one arborist look at your job and give you estimates. Don't expect one to lower a bid to match another's, and be willing to pay for the estimate if necessary.

9. A good arborist will offer a wide range of services (such as pruning, fertilizing, cabling/bracing, lightning protection, etc.).

10. A good arborist will recommend topping a tree ONLY in rare circumstances (such as to save the tree after severe physical damage to the crown).

11. A good arborist will not use climbing spikes if the tree is to remain in the landscape.

12. Beware of an arborist who is too eager to remove a living tree.

For current information about Louisiana's licensed arborists, please call the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry
(225) 952-8100.



To be assured of having your work performed to the standards you expect, a contract is key. A contract should include:

* The dates that work will begin and end.
* Exactly what work will be done. For example, "prune all dead, diseased, and weak branches one inch or greater in diameter." If your tree is to be sprayed, get a written statement detailing the specific insect or disease to be treated, the chemical to be used and how much, and what you need to do (cover lawn furniture, keep pets inside, etc.). If fertilizing is to be done, type of fertilizer, application rate and method of application should be stated.
* Specify what cleanup work will be done and when. Who gets any firewood, and, if it is you, will it be cut and stacked?
* Clarify if removal of a tree includes grinding the stump and roots to one foot below grade, filling with topsoil and planting grass.
* The total dollar amount you will be charged. You don't want any surprises.
* Work is usually priced: (a) as a single price for the job, or (b) on an hourly basis plus materials. When using the latter; be sure to include the wording, "...but not to exceed..."
Don't be shy about asking questions such as, "How do you make your pruning cuts?" or "How can I be sure that pedestrians and curious children will be kept safe?"

In short, be sure you have a contract that is complete and clear, and be satisfied in advance that your concerns will be dealt with fairly by the people you hire to work on your trees.

If a dispute does arise or you would like an expert to check the quality of work, seek the services of a consulting arborist, urban forester, or similar specialist who is not in competition with the arborist you hired.


Do you own shade trees and care about their place in the future?

[ ]Yes [ ]No

Are your trees healthy and vigorous, but you are the kind of person who believes in preventing problems through planning?

[ ]Yes [ ]No

Are you experiencing any of the conditions shown below?

[ ]Yes [ ]No

If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," the services of an arborist can help provide healthy trees and peace of mind.
Must roots be cut for a new sidewalk 
or building?
      Are limbs dying at the ends?

Is soil compaction apparent and aeration needed?
        Has a storm damaged your tree?
Is pruning needed for...

- Shaping
- Size control
- Thinning branches

- Eliminating branches that rub or 
  are creating a problem

- Better structure and wind resistance

but you lack...

- Experience with pruning
- The right tools
- Nerve for heights
- Physical condition

Do you plan to build on a lot with trees, and want to save some of them?
Do you need other services?

- Lightning protection systems
- Cabling or forked trunks or branches
- Appraisal value
- Fertilizing
- Preventive care
- Annual tree care check-ups

Are there cracks in the trunk, or cankers        growing on the bark?



Louisiana Arborist Association
Louisiana Arborist Association
P.O. Box 41396
Baton Rouge, LA 70835-1396

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