Gardening: Your trees deserve the best arborists for care

Arborists work on a large hollow elm tree that has fallen.  You can get referrals for experienced arborists from local nurserymen.

Arborists work on a large hollow elm tree that has fallen. You can get referrals for experienced arborists from local nurserymen.

Special at the Star-Telegram

My good friend, the late Benny Simpson, once described growing up in the Texas Panhandle.

Benny was one of Texas’ foremost tree experts, and trees were his love from childhood until the day he died. He once said to me: “When I was a child on Sunday afternoon, my father would take me to the river to see the tree.

We should all have the same level of appreciation for trees here in Texas. They overshadow us and they protect us. They make our recreational spaces pleasant several months of the year.

And, as if all that wasn’t enough, a properly chosen, placed, and maintained shade tree can be worth thousands of dollars in a Texas home’s resale value. This has been particularly visible in the frenetic housing market of the past two years.

So it stands to reason that you would want to protect this investment by only hiring highly qualified professionals to work on your trees. How do you find such a company?

I’ve been in this profession for over 50 years here at the Metroplex. I’ve seen great companies, and I’ve seen others that weren’t that good.

How to find a good tree service company

  • Start with a business that has been around for a long time. Experience suggests success and happy customers.
  • Get referrals from local nurserymen. They will know the companies that are doing the best job in your neighborhood.
  • Talk to your friends and neighbors, especially those who have trees that have been carefully maintained. Don’t bother asking if a friend’s trees have been felled or topped.
  • Talk to the businesses themselves and find one you’re comfortable with. It will be a business relationship, and you need to feel comfortable with how they will answer your questions.
  • Ask for a list of five or six of their clients and ask them how their work was done. Check them out on online review sites.
  • Above all, look for the International Society of Arboriculture “Certified Arborists”. These are the people who have studied the craft and proven their skills at a high professional level.

Most companies offer an option of annual or semi-annual visits from their representatives to check on the health and vigor of your precious shade trees. They will know the warning signs of trees in distress and keep you informed of any changes in the condition of your trees.

These local certified arborists will also be aware of any special issues that may have arisen in recent months. Maybe it’s a rapid buildup of bagworms that needs to be dealt with quickly, or maybe it’s something even more sinister like the Seiridium canker on a Leyland cypress or the damage it caused by the extreme cold of February 2021 to live oaks or elms with lace bark.

Arborists watch for root shoots to make sure a tree has not been planted too deep. This can lead to long term stress and possible loss of trees. They will be on the lookout for roots that might grow on top of each other or sink into the trunk. They will know what to do if you have roots starting to come out of the ground at the risk of sidewalks, driveways, or even the foundation itself.

Trees are mortal beings, and like all other animals and plants on our planet, they have a lifespan. As trees begin to mature, the arborist can point out which branches are starting to weaken. He may suggest selective pruning to remove weakened branches that might fall off and cause damage.

If large branches are hanging over your home, consider asking your tree care specialist for wire branches that support each other. It’s a highly skilled science involving tree climbing, plant physiology and physics, and yet another reason to be sure you have someone who is certified.

When the time comes to fell a tree or remove a large branch, you will need a company that has the equipment and the know-how. I had a huge Native American elm removed from our landscape a few years ago. This tree was 48 inches in diameter and I knew it was hollow. The outer branches were dying, and it was only a matter of time before they fell, washing away much of our backyard in the process. Almost as a challenge to themselves, they drew an “X” on the ground next to the huge trunk and promised me that every piece of that tree would be lowered to that exact spot. And I watched for six hours as they did exactly what they said. A 60-foot tree fell in a spot the size of a chart table.

When it comes to working trees, don’t give in to people knocking on doors with vans. They flood the streets after storms. Do your homework ahead of time and invest in the best. Good arborists can help keep your trees alive and vigorous for decades to come.

You can hear Neil Sperry on KLIF 570AM on Saturday afternoons from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and on WBAP 820 on Sunday mornings from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Join him on and follow him on Facebook.

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Terri S. Tomasini