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Selecting a Qualified Arborist

Gardening Information

By: Lynsey Nielson, horticulturist

Trees are usually the most valuable part of the living landscape—for the shade and aesthetics they provide, and for the amount of time it takes to replace a loss. Therefore, shopping around for the right arborist is well worth the investment and the little planning required.

The best option for locating qualified arborists in Utah is through the International Society of Arboriculture, Certified Arborist Program. Utah has many arborists who are certified through the ISA. To locate a certified arborist in your area, see the Utah Community Forest Council’s website (Utah Chapter of ISA). Certified arborists must pass an intense exam and annually satisfy required continuing education credits. Typically, not all arborists in a company are certified, so be sure to request an arborist whose certification is current and ask to see their certification.

Being a certified arborist will not in itself assure a quality job. As with hiring any contractor, it is important that you interview and check references before signing a contract. Some potential questions are "What is 'included bark' and why is that a problem?", or "Why are flush cuts harmful to my tree?", or "Why is topping harmful to my tree?"

A good arborist will educate you on the proper care of trees and the harmful effects of improper pruning. An arborist with a high code of ethics will walk away from a job that requires topping. This is the person you want to care for your trees!

For more information, go to our How to Prune Trees and Shrubs article.

Other Helpful Tips

Make sure the company you hire is insured. Request a copy of their insurance coverage, and do not permit work to start on your property without verification.

Most states, including Utah, DO NOT have state-run programs for testing or licensing arborists; therefore a company claiming to be ‘licensed’ in Utah is most likely referring to a simple business license.

Work performed near an energized power line must be performed by a certified arborist utility specialist. These professionals have received appropriate training concerning the hazards and safe practices of working near energized lines and only use ANSI-approved equipment. In addition, Utah’s Overhead Line Safety Act requires a contractor to notify the power utility in advance if tree work within 10 feet of an energized power line will need to be performed. The utility and contractor will work together to create a safe work zone, which may include placing mechanical barriers to prevent contact with power lines, temporarily moving a power line or de-energizing and grounding the line. Private tree trimmers and homeowners have been killed or seriously injured while working close to energized power lines.


Utah Community Forest Council / International Society of Arboriculture Utah Chapter

International Society of Arboriculture-Public Outreach