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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

UNL Extension in Lancaster County

Horticulture

Helping Nebraskans enhance their lives through research-based education.

Be Cautious With Unsolicited Tree Recommendation

by Sarah Browning, UNL Extension Educator

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Occasionally, we receive calls from homeowners who have been told by a tree company that their trees need treatment for a list of insect problems. Homeowners should carefully consider any unsolicited recommendations, particularly if minor pests and/or leaf spots are cited as the problems. And keep in mind that most reputable tree companies have enough work to keep them busy without going door to door.

All trees have some insects that can be found on the leaves, stems or trunk. Trees live in a natural ecosystem with many inhabitants, and only a few of them are serious pests. Minor leaf-feeding insects such as cankerworm, leafhoppers, leaf beetles, leaf miners, twig pruners, and twig girdlers are very rarely serious enough to warrant chemical control.

A few leaf spots or deformed leaves are not uncommon even for a healthy tree, either. In fact, some diseases, like apple scab or cedar-apple rust, can cause 50% or more leaf drop on susceptible trees yet these trees continue to be vigorous and otherwise healthy for many years. If your tree looks healthy to you, don’t rush into treatment. Serious tree problems usually take time to develop.

For a listing of serious tree problems that may warrant control, check out publications from the Nebraska Forest Service.

If you do need to hire an arborist, consider the following recommendations.

  • Check the phone directory yellow pages for arborists who advertise as International Society of Arborists or Nebraska Arborist Association, certified arborists or display the official ISA or NAA logo.
  • A certified arborist is trained in planting, caring for and maintaining trees. Certified arborists have at least three years experience and have passed an exam developed by some of the nation's leading experts on tree care.
  • Ask for proof of insurance and then phone the insurance company if you aren't satisfied. A reputable arborist will have personal and property damage insurance as well as workers compensation insurance.
  • Ask for references to find out where the company has done similar work. Talk with the references and find out if they were satisfied.
  • Get more than one estimate and don't always accept the lowest bid. Examine the submitted bids and determine the best combination of price, work to be done, skill and professionalism to protect substantial investments. Don’t rush your decision just because you are promised a discount on the work if you sign now. Take your time and do your research.

This resource was added July 2013 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County is your on-line yard and garden educational resource. The information on this Web site is valid for residents of southeastern Nebraska. It may or may not apply in your area. If you live outside southeastern Nebraska, visit your local Extension office


Contact Information University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lancaster County
Web site: lancaster.unl.edu
444 Cherrycreek Road, Suite A, Lincoln, NE 68528 | 402-441-7180