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DALY: Certified arborists can help trees in trouble

Why does a tree suddenly begin to wilt and die? What could cause one tree to suffer while others nearby remain healthy?

In recent years, trees in our area have been under high stress levels as a result of droughts, construction activities, storms, insects and diseases. Often the symptoms do not become apparent until months or even years after the affliction has begun.

If any trees on your property are of concern, consider hiring a Certified Arborist to do a thorough assessment of the tree. Certified Arborists are professionals who have passed a special licensing exam and have met certain requirements through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Arborists are well trained in many facets of tree care including tree health, pest management, soil fertility, assessing storm damage, and proper pruning techniques.

An arborist can examine and identify the potential risks of trees on your property and recommend specific treatments, such as pruning, to maintain their health and vigor. Pruning may include thinning out branches, removing dead limbs that could potentially cause damage to property or harm people. Sometimes the complete removal of the tree is warranted if nothing can be done to save it, especially if the tree is potentially dangerous. Arborists can also provide recommendations for preventative maintenance to maximize the health of your trees.

What should you look for when searching for a qualified arborist and tree care company? First, make sure the person who will be doing the tree assessments is a current Certified Arborist through the ISA. Also, they need to present to you proof of insurance with the name and contact information of the insurance company. They should have the necessary licenses and permits required to perform the work. Ask for references and consider visiting sites where the company has performed work in the past.

You should get multiple estimates from different arborists and do not always accept the lowest price. Carefully examine the written specifications on the estimates to determine the best combination of price, work to be done, skill, and professionalism. Most reputable arborists present their clients with a detailed contract explaining when the work will be started and finished as well as who will be responsible for the cleanup. Make sure the contract specifies the total cost. Ask if there are any undisclosed charges, such as stump grinding, which often is an additional cost.

Trees are assets that add value to one's property and should be cared for properly.

With the help of certified arborists, a homeowner's trees will remain healthy and safe through proper fertility management and pruning. The International Society of Arboriculture (www.isa-arbor.org) or the Georgia Arborist Association (www.georgiaarborist.org/) are both excellent sources of information on tree care and can provide certified arborists recommendations in your area.

Timothy Daly is an Agricultural and Natural Resource Extension Agent with the Gwinnett County Extension. He may be contacted by phone at 678-377-4010 or by email at timothy.daly@gwinnettcounty.com.