Protecting Our Trees: Tips for selecting a qualified Tree Care company

A study done by the City of Toronto called “Every Tree Counts” estimated that the city has an estimated 20% tree canopy cover.  Of this  20%  coverage, 60% of the trees are on private property, 34% are located in City parks and natural areas and 6% are in City road allowances.  It is estimated that the urban forest provides the equivalent of more than $60 million dollars of ecological services each year.  This includes benefits from energy savings and emissions reductions, air quality improvements and carbon storage and sequestration.  The structural value of Toronto’s urban forest is estimated at a whopping $7 billion.

The benefits provided by a healthy urban forest to the population is impressive and include:

  • improved air quality by trapping pollution particles that cause breathing problems
  • absorbing carbon dioxide and other gases and in return providing us with oxygen
  • reducing air temperature when water evaporates from the leaves
  • intercepting rainfall, resulting in reduced storm water runoff and improved water quality
  • providing much-needed wildlife habitat
  • reduced noise pollution by acting as a sound barrier
  • increased property values
  • reduced reliance on air conditioning when deciduous trees are planted on the west and south-facing sides of homes
  • reduced winter heating costs when evergreens are planted on the north side of homes acting as windbreaks

Simply put, trees are incredibly important in helping to keep our City environmentally healthy and because of this basic truth, it is imperative to take care of all the trees around us.  With 60% of the urban forest on private property it is important for home owners to make sure they do their best to create and keep up a healthy environment for the trees they have; just look at the list above and you’ll see three basic reasons (namely increased property values and decreased heating and cooling bills)!

So how do you do that?  Well to start you can make sure that you are always hiring a qualified tree care company.  Check out the list below for some important tips when doing this.

  1. Always, always, always hire a certified arborist!  You are looking for someone with experience, education and a good reputation to care for your tree.  Do not be afraid to ask for qualifications from the person actually doing the work.
  2. Beware of those that knock on your door.  Quite often these people are employing scare tactics and are commonly found knocking on doors after storms or pressing issues (like the Emerald Ash Borer that is currently attacking our City’s Ash trees and will be the topic of a post later this week) and they aren’t always qualified.
  3. Ask if workers will be using climbing spikes or spurs.  Responsible companies will not use these on trees unless they are being removed.  Why?  Puncture marks in the bark from the spikes/spurs create potential entry points for pests and disease.
  4. Make sure they have insurance!  You will want to make sure that the company is covered by the Workers Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) and don’t be afraid to call and make sure that the company you are choosing is covered by whichever company they tell you is insuring them.  Why?  Under some circumstances property owners can be held financially responsible if an uninsured worker is hurt of a neighbouring property is damaged.
  5. Request references.  A local list is best!
  6. Don’t be rushed into choosing a company based on a ‘bargain’.  It’s always a good idea to get more than one estimate and to keep in mind that the cheapest one isn’t always the best one. (You know that old adage, if it’s seems to good to be true….)
  7.  Be informed!  The joy of the internet and its plethora of resources is that it is really quite easy to educate yourself on proper tree care techniques.

I highly recommend checking out information from an organization called Local Enhancement & Appreciation of Forests or LEAF they’ve been a major source for this blog post, and have a phenomenal collection of information about Toronto’s urban forest.  For a list of certified arborists in your area LEAF suggests you contact the International Society of Arboriculture at 1-888-463-2316 or or


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