Meg Griffin still lives in the house she grew up in. She can remember playing hide and seek around the big oak trees in her front yard, raking leaves in the fall, and sitting in the shade in summer.
"My family maintained these old oaks for 47 years. I grew up with them, I love them and they're a part of my family," said Griffin. "But I know trees are a safety factor, so I care for them just like I would any other family member."
Griffin's family made an investment in their trees long ago. They consulted with a certified arborist from The Davey Tree Expert Company who has maintained the oaks, and other trees on the Griffin property, for more than 25 years. Pruning, fertilizing, routine maintenance and even cabling when needed have kept the trees strong and healthy.
"I'm not worried when a big storm comes through because my trees are well-maintained," she explains. "My neighbors have used other tree services and after a storm, their yards are still covered in branches. It's horrid!"
Last year, a neighbor used a non-licensed "cheap tree" service to clear branches from Griffin's oak that hung over his yard. The work was done without Griffin's approval or presence.
"I was furious. They did a real hack-job and just sawed the limbs off with no thought," she exclaimed. "I had to get Davey back to clean up the mess and repair my trees. I trust Davey to care for and preserve my trees. They're not just maintenance men."
Like many homeowners, Griffin appreciates the value of trees. Maintained trees are attractive and increase property values by as much as 15%. Trees reduce heating and cooling bills, naturally clean the air, add oxygen and control noise levels.
As Griffin learned, poor tree care knowledge can result in irreversible harm, leaving trees susceptible to diseases and damaging them to the point of no return.
"To me, tree maintenance is less expensive than replacing a tree. But it isn't just about the pricing. Tree companies are not all the same," she said from experience.
When hiring an arborist, tree care experts strongly recommend people do their homework:
1. First, check for certification by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and accreditation by the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). This guarantees the company is equipped with industry knowledge and safety procedures.
2. Make sure the arborist has proof of insurance. Tree maintenance is a high-risk activity and many unqualified arborists do not carry their own insurance, making the homeowner liable for any accidents.
3. Finally, ask for a list of references. Homeowners should be able to trust their arborists and have confidence in their experience and abilities.
Proper tree care is an investment that results in substantial returns. Maintained trees are attractive and add considerable value to properties. Poorly maintained trees can be a significant liability. Pruning or removing trees, especially large trees, can be dangerous work and should be done only by those trained and equipped to work safely in trees.
After Griffin's bad experience, she knows the cheapest is never best with tree care. "Don't go by price. Ask your questions, and do your homework-- or you may just get what you pay for."
The Davey Tree Expert Company, with U.S. and Canadian operations in more than 45 states and five provinces, provides a variety of tree care, grounds maintenance and consulting services for the residential, commercial, utility and government markets. Founded in 1880, Davey is employee-owned and has more than 7,000 employees who provide Proven Solutions for a Growing World. For more information, visit www.davey.com.