When choosing a local tree surgeon, there are some key issues to think about. In this article, we’ll take you through them step by step.

  • Check your tree surgeon has the essential qualifications
  • Ask about other accreditations and membership
  • Get a detailed quote from every tree surgeon you’re considering
  • For a top quality job – hire a specialist tree surgeon
  • Ask these key questions
  • Listen to the language your tree surgeon uses
  • Check you tree surgeon uses the right equipment
  • Ask who will actually be doing the work

Let’s look at each of these in a bit more depth.

Check your local tree surgeon has the essential qualifications

The National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC) is part of the City & Guilds group and is the governing body which issues certificates of competence for tree surgeons. As a minimum, your local tree surgeon should hold the following certificates:

  • CS30 – Maintenance of the chainsaw, on site preparation and basic cross cutting
  • CS31 – Fell and process small trees
  • CS38 – Climb a tree and perform aerial rescue
  • CS39 – Use of a chainsaw from a rope and harness
  • First Aid at Work

You should also ask if your tree surgeon works to British Standards, and see if they can name the relevant ones. The two main British standards for tree work are:

  • British Standard 3998:2010 Tree work. Recommendations
  • British Standard 5837:2012 Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction – Recommendations

Ask about other accreditations and membership

It’s also worth asking whether your local tree surgeon has any other qualifications – like a relevant degree or additional NPTC certification – that go above and beyond these.

Alternatively, are they a member of the Arboricultural Association (AA), the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) or the Royal Forestry Society? Just bear in mind that membership of a particular organisation doesn’t necessarily guarantee a high standard of workmanship.

Get a detailed quote from every local tree surgeon you’re considering

Any tree surgeon should be happy to provide you with a free quotation, in writing. This quotation should break down exactly what’s included in the price.

For example, does the final price for the job include the hire of any equipment, stump grinding and all taxes? In particular, check whether the quote includes the clearance and disposal of waste. Tree surgery often produces a large volume of cut material (branches, the main tree trunk, leaves and so on) which can be difficult and expensive for the homeowner to dispose of themselves.

For a top quality job – hire a specialist tree surgeon

It’s generally best to avoid ‘Jack-of-all-trades’. A good gardener or landscaper may also be capable of doing tree surgery, but may  not be covered by the correct insurance – and definitely won’t be properly trained to climb a tree with a cutting implement. If you’re really conscious about getting a top level arborist to do your trees, we would advise you look out for a tree surgeon who works with trees and only trees.

Ask these key questions to your local tree surgeon

Here are a helpful list of questions we ask any local tree surgeon you speak with:

  • What will their method be for removing the tree?
  • How will the tree’s future growth be affected?
  • How long will the job take?
  • Is there a way of doing the job that will have less of an impact on your neighbours?

A good tree surgeon will be more than happy to give you detailed replies to all these questions – and may well suggest a range of different solutions. They will also be able to demonstrate a thorough understanding of how the law applies to their job.

Listen to the language your local tree surgeon uses

The vocabulary a tree surgeon uses can be a useful indication of their level of expertise. For example, if your tree surgeon starts talking about ‘lopping’ or ‘topping’…  we suggest you steer clear! Those are very old-fashioned descriptions. Instead look out for words like pruning, crown reduction, thinning, crown lifting, dead-wooding… these is more modern, accurate terminology and indicates your tree surgeon knows what they’re doing and takes pride in their work.


Check your local tree surgeon is using the right equipment

Take a look at the equipment your local tree surgeon brings with them to the job – and how they use it. In particular:

  • Are they wearing the right personal protective equipment. This should typically include a helmet with visor and ear protection, chainsaw boots and chainsaw trousers.
  • Using a harness and a rope.

Ask who will actually be doing the work

When your local tree surgeon comes to quote on your project, make sure you ask them who will actually be doing the work. You need to find out which aspects of the job will be carried out by your tree surgeon, and which elements will be undertaken by other members of their team, or sub-contractors.

Our director Michael Miller is your local tree surgeon for Hampshire & West Sussex and is an experienced NPTC-certified climbing arborist, with an excellent feedback rating on Check A Trade.