How to employ a qualified tree surgeon

Anyone can call themselves a tree surgeon and place an advert in a trade directory or the local newspaper. It is easy to be caught out and hire a bad tree surgeon – so here are a few suggestions on what you should be looking for to help you choose a reliable tree surgeon to carry out work at an acceptable standard.

Tree felling and tree surgery are skilled operations which require a high level of technical knowledge, supported by training and experience.

Make a plan of everything that needs to be done and discuss this in detail with the tree surgeon. If you have a good understanding of what to expect and how things will look when the job has finished, you will be far happier with the outcome.

  • Ask for references or recommendations.
  • Make sure a tree surgeon has adequate insurance and can provide the certificates of their training to do the job in hand!
  • Ask if the tree surgeon works to British Standards. The two main British standards for tree work are:
    • British Standard 3998:1989 ‘British Standard Recommendations for Tree Work’
    • British Standard 5837:1991 ‘Trees in Relation to Construction’
  • Obtain a written quote and make sure that everything you have asked for is included. (e.g. make sure that the hire cost for chipping machine or the price for wood removal is included)
  • Make sure the tree is not protected. Your local planning office, or local authority will be able to tell you whether a tree is protected. If you are not sure, a good tree surgeon will be able to advise you.
  • Stay within the law. In certain circumstances, tree owners are required to obtain permission from the local authority or the Forestry Commission before any tree surgery can be legally carried out. It is strongly advised that the relevant authority is consulted before work commences, or both the tree contractor and the land owner could be liable to prosecution. In most cases you should confirm that you are able to undertake any tree works with the council to whom you pay your council tax.

For more reading, checkout our checklist of things a tree surgeon should do before taking down a tree.

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