Advice on Hiring Tree Work Contractors

Pruning trees at any height or using dangerous tools are jobs that you should only consider using a skilled arborist (tree surgeon) for. As well as the safety aspect there is also the need to be confident that the operations being undertaken are in the tree's best interest too.

But how do you know you are hiring the right person for the job?

Choosing any new tradesman is a difficult choice. If money is no object then go for the best you can afford. But beware! This does not necessarily mean that the most expensive quote is the best value for money or quality - read on to see how you know you can get real the best job done safely with value for money.

Below are some important points to bear in mind when deciding who to employ to keep your trees healthy while keeping property and persons intact!

  • Arboricultural Association LogoThe best place to find a suitable contractor is in the Arboricultural Association's register of approved contractors. You can reach them by going to the website Arboricultural Association or by calling 01242 522152. They will be able to supply you with a list of firms in your part of the country that meets their high professional standards.


  • International Society of Arboriculture Logo Another recognised body is the International Society of Arboriculture. Another common place to look for a local firm is in the Yellow Pages under 'Tree Work'.



  • Reputation is a good indicator. Most good, professional firms pride themselves on their reputation by word of mouth and work very hard to maintain it. You also have the benefit of being able to inspect previous works done for friends or family.

  • Avoid firms that promote 'Topping & Lopping' in their advertisements as these are very outmoded terms and may reflect a lack of knowledge of modern arboricultural techniques or general good tree management.

  • Look for firms that work to B.S. 3998: 2010 Recommendations for Tree Work. This British Standard ensures precise and sound pruning techniques that promote safe and healthy pruning.

  • NPTC LogoLook for firms that have had their employees NPTC assessed. This means their skill has been certified by the body that assesses competence in tree works.

  • Ensure that the firm is suitably insured to work on your property. A minimum of £1million pound Public & Products liability cover is adequate although £5 million is ideal, as well as Employers Liability insurance. It is very important as it will also protect you should the unthinkable happen. Remember! Tree work is very hazardous. Training, experience and professionalism can minimise risks but never completely remove them.

  • If a firm states they are Local Authority approved, check with the relevant Local Authority that they are. Broxtowe Borough Council no longer runs an approved list.

  • Ensure that they will be able to visit for free and provide a free written quote that is valid for at least 28 days.

  • Try to get at least 3 written quotes to compare prices. But I repeat, cost should not be the only consideration.

  • Ask lots of questions. You will get a good idea of how well a contractor knows his subject by how willing he is to give sound answers for your queries. Good firms will always check if the tree they are working on is tree preservation order protected of if it is protected by a conservation area.

  • Ensure that they will dispose of the debris legally. You may be faced with a heavy fine if fly-tipped material is traced back to you.

  • When you have selected a firm to hire make sure to arrange a suitable date and try to be present when the work is done. Be aware that they may have to cancel at short notice if the weather conditions are extreme enough to make climbing too hazardous, e.g. thunderstorms, severe rain, gales, blizzards etc.

  • If the contractors are working on a boundary tree you will need to notify your neighbour of the works as the entry of the operatives, even into their airspace will technically constitute a trespass.

  • Be sure that if you have a contractor working on a protected tree, they have the appropriate permission in writing if they have been your agents in the application process.

  • Beware of being pressured into adding extra work on to what was initially agreed - make it clear from the outset that extra works should only be done with agreement between both parties, not done automatically and charged for.

  • NEVER employ people who knock on your door asking you for tree work. The chances are they will do a very poor job; will not be insured if they damage something or hurt someone; will vastly inflate the cost of a job as they are doing it (horror stories of £80 jobs costing £800 are not uncommon); your garden will probably be left like a bomb site and any debris taken will probably end up being tipped around the corner; and worst of all it is common for these people to becoming menacing, sometimes violent, if money is not surrendered when they demand it.

  • Ensure that any firm you hire have an office address and a land line telephone number - be suspicious if they only have a mobile telephone number as a contact.

Remember! Never put yourself or others at risk - Leave it to the professionals!

Grounds Maintenance
tel: 0115 917 7777