Archive for News

Boxwood Blight and how we can help you

If you’re reading this post, you’re probably concerned about the boxwood blight currently spreading in Connecticut.

The Litchfield County Times has a good overview article here, and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station has a great handout here.

If you are concerned that your boxwoods may already be infected with this blight, don’t panic!

Take a good look at the pictures in the article and handout above and if you have reason to be concerned, you can contact the experiment station here:

Plant Disease Information Office
Phone: 203-974-8601
Statewide Toll-Free: 877-855-2237

They’ll talk you through sending in a sample, which is diagnosed free of charge.
Should your plant material prove to be infected, they can let you know how keep the diseased material from infecting your healthy plants.

To our green industry readers: be proactive!
Share this information with your clients. You both need to be prepared to start a preventative fungicide treatment routine in the spring.

Homeowners: share this information with your neighbors! The disease spreads rapidly under warm, humid conditions. According to Dr. Douglas at the Experiment station, the fungi are sticky and thus not easily windborne, but rather spread by animals or birds, by humans (on shoes), or if the diseased material was to be composted and then the compost applied to uninfected material.

We strongly recommend that you hire a professional with a state-issued pesticide applicator’s license and insurance (ask for proof) to apply these treatments.
You want the chemicals to really drench the plant material in order to ensure that every surface is coated.
Having personally used the pump-up sprayers available to homeowners, I can tell you they are wildly less effective than the spray guns used by our plant health-care team.

If you’re in the Northwest Corner, give us a call to set up an estimate. A member of our team would be delighted to meet with you and walk your property.
As always, we’re at 800-690-2726, or our email can be found on the home page.

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Anthracnose and its effect on fall colors

Article by George Krimsky, taken from the Republican-American:
(click photos to enlarge)

The wet weather has generally been good for Connecticut’s trees, but a resulting fungus will put a damper on bright colors during the foliage season, the experts say.

One can see the early results in sugar maples, which normally produce the most fiery fall colors, but are now turning a premature yellowish brown. The cause is a common tree fungus or mold called “anthracnose,” which thrives in the wet, according to tree specialists.

“We sometimes call it leaf ‘acne,’ because it isn’t that harmful but doesn’t look very good,” said Christopher Martin, chief of forestry for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“Yes, it’s not a death blow, but you can see the leaves withering,” said Lukas Hyder, forester at the White Memorial Foundation in Litchfield.

Connecticut is not alone. Anthracnose, not to be mistaken for the animal disease anthrax, affects most hardwoods, and is prevalent throughout New England this year, according to foliage reports. In northernmost Maine, maple leaves have already started turning brown and dropping “due to above normal levels of fungi,” according to a recent television news report from Brunswick, Maine.

Vermont, trying to recover from heavy flooding damage in the wake of Hurricane Irene, sees no significant effect on its vaunted maple syrup industry from the fungus, according to the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center.

Contrary to common impressions, DEEP’s Martin said that sugar maples only make up about 5 percent of Connecticut’s deciduous tree population. “It seems like more because they were planted in the most prominent places for their beauty, but you can’t find many in the interior forest,” he said.

Hickory, oak and red maples are far more common in the state, and it is the diversity of hardwood trees that makes Connecticut so attractive to tourists in the fall, he added.

Leaves are expected to start reaching peak color in the state around the Columbus Day weekend the second week of October.

We at Arbor Services would like to urge you to take your fall vacations in Vermont. The entire state was hit very hard by the recent storms. They’re making massive strides in the repairs department, but will be counting on some tourism dollars from the likes of you and me. Go, see the leaves, buy some maple syrup, spend money locally. They’ll appreciate it. Can’t get to Vermont? Do the same thing right here. It’s always been the right thing to do, but now it’s more important than ever.

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The aesthetic evolution of an Arbor Services proposal suite

From this plain blue portfolio folder:
Old portfolio folders

Sent in this white poly mailer:

White poly mailer

To this new folder with pictures by Richard (exterior) and Visko (interior):

front & back of proposal folders
interior of proposal folder

Sent in this 100% recycled Kraft Mailer:

100% recycled Kraft envelopes, with new Moo stickers

This is what the stickers look like (all sticker photos by Visko):
new Moo stickers

new Moo stickers

new Moo stickers

Although the white poly mailers were recyclable, they were made out of new material. The white/blue package was boring, easily lost or misplaced, and not the greenest approach nor yet a great representation of what Arbor Services can do. We make an effort to give you the best service we’re capable of, so why shouldn’t the proposal suite match that?

We’re happy to have found a green solution that’s also visually pleasing. Want to get one? We don’t blame you! Give us a call to set up an estimate and you can see this in your mailbox very soon. :)

This is all made possible by
Visko Hatfield Photography
Richard Wanderman Photography
Willy Walt Printing (folders)
Moo (stickers)
Envelope Mall (envelopes)

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A quick post on storm damage and response times

We ask for your patience in waiting for regularly scheduled work and estimates – the storm of last week left us absolutely swamped. We are still in triage mode over here. (If we had a dollar for every time we heard “tree-age” this week… :) …)

In the meantime, take a look at some of the things we’ve been working on this week.

(And if you see a utility crew out there, thank them – they’ve had a tough week.)

Even more storm damage

More storm damage

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Connecticut Budget & the Agricultural Experiment Station

Ever wonder how we diagnose certain plant or tree diseases, or analyze soil samples? We use the services that the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station provides.

The station provides invaluable services for countless individuals and tradespeople throughout the state. Under the proposed Plan B budget, the CAES would be entirely eliminated through lack of funding.

Read below, and then contact the Governor and let your voice be heard.

Via the Connecticut Tree Protective Association,

As many of you are probably aware, the Governor’s Plan B budget is built around some very deep cuts to state services and agencies. There are many specific details of that budget proposal that ought to get deeper scrutiny. The one detail that caught the attention of the CTPA Board is that which would eliminate the CT Agricultural Experiment Station as a state agency. Under the Plan B budget, the Experiment Station is zeroed out – it receives no money and would presumably cease to exist, with its entire staff left out of work.

It is the position of the Board that this drastic step is both unacceptable and unwarranted, and we have written a letter to the Governor (below) expressing this position. CTPA members are also encouraged to express their views on this proposal, and to send them to the Governor and legislative representatives. If members wish further information regarding this proposal or its details, please feel free to contact the CTPA office and we will send along what information we have.

This are difficult times for all. It is important that everyone, including the leaders of state government, make decisions that are wise and will stand the test of time. It is our view that closing the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station is not one of those. We are encouraging the Governor and the legislature to reconsider, should a vote to accept Plan B come to pass.

With Regards,
Chris Donnelly

CTPA’s Letter to the Governor:

May 12, 2011

The Honorable Dannel P. Malloy
Governor, State of Connecticut
Connecticut State Capitol
210 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106

Dear Governor Malloy:

It is with great dismay that the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Tree Protective Association has learned of your proposal to close the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. As an educational association, we are dedicated to advancing the care of trees in Connecticut. Our membership consists of over 815 practicing licensed arborists, tree care professionals, scientists, educators and others. We provide the professional services and understanding of trees that helps make the State of Connecticut a national leader with regards to the practice of tree care. It is not an exaggeration to say that, taken in aggregate, the quality of care for both the public and private trees within our state is equal to or better than that found in any other state in union. With all due recognition of DEP and the importance of that agency’s role, it is fair to say that, within state government, those who practice tree care have no greater ally than the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. Should the Station be closed, its loss would be a devastating blow to our industry.

The specifics of what the Station does for the tree care industry in the state are too numerous to detail. Even a partial list would include all of the work done by individual scientists to uncover emerging tree health problems and then to disseminate that knowledge to professionals in the field. It would also include the role that Station scientists and staff play in establishing the qualifying standards for those who would be licensed as arborists, along with the Station’s part in the testing process itself. The Station is exceptionally generous in the critical educational support it provides both to those who have their arborist license and those who seek it.

Apart from any of these individual examples, the most important point is that the Experiment Station is a key ally of the tree care professionals of the state. Doing our job properly would be hard to imagine without their support. The people at the Station understand fully what it is that we do. They are willing and more than able to provide us with the necessary tools so that, together, we can do the best we can for the trees and citizens of the State of Connecticut.

As I mentioned earlier, the loss of this Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station would be a devastating blow to the care of trees in the state. That can be said even apart from mentioning the degree of direct outreach and education the Station provides the citizens of the state, so that they have a better understanding of their trees, what these trees need and what people can do better to care for and protect these trees.

I will not attempt to speculate on the loss of value that would ensue from the closing of the Experiment Station in just this one field. The greatest losses would be those that occur over time, due to the retrenching of skill and knowledge associated with tree care professionals in the state. Ultimately, these losses would be paid for by the people who own and care for trees in Connecticut. It is they who would see how the level of skill and knowledge in the profession has changed, who would see its effects on individual trees, and who would find out what it means when the professional community is not quite as prepared as it might be when it comes to the newest insects and diseases that seem to be continuously threatening the trees in our state.

We certainly understand that the budgetary issues of Connecticut are at a dire point. However, we urge you not to make a choice that, in the long run, will likely prove to be for more costly than the short term savings gained and that, in the short term, will hit hard a dedicated professional community within the state.


Chris Donnelly
President, CTPA

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Thinking Locally, Acting Globally at Arbor Services

Everything’s busy here – plant health care season has just started, so that means lots of activity.
We’re looking forward to participating in the Villages of Washington Community Day (May 28th), we’ll have a table and would love to meet you. More information to follow.

It’s not spring without spring cleaning! Massive piles of logs and waste wood get stored at our facilities over the winter, and then in spring, some of it gets milled, some becomes firewood, and some, as we tweeted earlier, some of it is being turned into siding.
We’ll definitely be providing photos as the construction of the Kimberly farm stand in New Milford progresses.

When you’re getting involved locally, it can be easy to forget how far things travel. About 2 months ago we posted pictures of worn-out Arbor Services uniform shirts being turned into shop rags.
Shirts to shop rags T-shirts into shop rags

A Flickr contact, a Brazilian forest engineer, saw the pictures and asked that we send him a t-shirt.
So we did, and he has just posted a picture of himself with the shirt.

He’s working at ToraBrasil, a company that produces luxury furniture that’s FSC certified. Wouldn’t have met him without the internet.

Cool, right? In 2010 we purchased a number of cutting boards from a Dutch design firm (Oooms) to give as year-end gifts. Gorgeous boards, made from FSC certified beech. Wouldn’t have discovered them without the internet.

We’re grateful to be able to support artisans, contractors and farmers, locally and abroad, and happy to be in contact with colleagues throughout the world.

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Plant Health Care and Trees

As we are gearing up for the plant health care season, we thought we’d share this great article. Scroll to the bottom of the page for a list of some of the PHC services we offer!

Via the TCIA,

“Plant health care, also called PHC, offers a total health approach to landscape and plant health,” says Tchukki Andersen, BCMA and staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association. “Your arborist has recognized a potential or actual problem in your landscape that might be best avoided or treated by implementing a PHC treatment program.”

Traditional landscape pest control programs rely on what are called “cover sprays.” The pest control sprays offered to the client are based on the company’s knowledge of common pest problems and control measures in the service area. The cover-spray type, method and timing are pre-determined by the company. The homeowner may have the option to choose from a number of pest-control programs.
Traditional pest control programs are not necessarily obsolete or “bad” for the environment and may be the best option for clients who have overriding concerns about program cost or are only concerned about one specific pest problem.

In contrast, plant health care technicians consider the landscape as a whole when deciding how to best care for plants. PHC technicians manage plant problems through careful monitoring of the landscape environment. Chemical controls may be part of the treatment, but they are not necessarily used in every treatment. Because of this, every PHC program is “customized” to fit the client’s property and expectations.

The PHC technician maintains landscape plants by:
• evaluating the landscape’s environment
• noting causes of plant stress (stressors)
• maintaining plant performance through proper cultural practices
• investigating the landscape through monitoring
• identifying and treating problems as they occur

The following are examples of some common problems:
• Many plant problems are related to improper matching of the plant’s requirements to the landscape site
• Plants may have been improperly planted
• Plants may be subjected to improper maintenance techniques
• Often a combination of improper plant siting (wrong plant/wrong site), improper planting and improper maintenance techniques can cause plant stress and decline

Your expectations
“A PHC technician also will consider your expectations when deciding how to implement a PHC treatment program,” explains Andersen. One important question is just when do you, the client, want to resort to chemical control of pest problems. Some clients will tolerate a greater percentage of plant damage before requiring action. Some clients will tolerate very little plant damage. Often a client will tolerate less damage on a prized ornamental specimen tree located in the front yard as opposed to a group of shade trees growing in the back yard. This requires the PHC technician to apply a higher action threshold to some tress and/or sections of the landscape than others. “Here, communication and understanding between the client and plant health care technician are key!” says Andersen. Treatment recommendations are then made to the client based on that client’s expectations. The key to a successful plant health care program is communication between the client and PHC technician.

What can you do?
A professional arborist can examine your trees to find the source of a problem and recommend what, if any, treatments are required, including thinning dense woods, planting new trees, correcting soil deficiencies, increasing water and nutrients, or managing pests.

Arbor Services is pleased to offer a variety of traditional and organic plant health care options. We can analyze and amend your soil (bio-remediation). We are now selling premium microinjection products to the trade on our shopping website.

Our technicians are licensed applicators in the state of Connecticut. We have two members of CT-NOFA (Connecticut Northeast Organic Farming Association) on staff.

Didn’t invite the deer to your orchard, the ticks to your lawn, or the mosquitoes to your party? We have a spray for that. Sprays that we use on our own properties, around our own children and pets. Sprays that we get great results from.

Is your tree simply not getting enough water? We provide deep-root watering.

Girdling roots? We can cut those out and air-spade to loosen impacted soil.

Not on your property with great frequency, yet concerned about your plant material? We can provide monitoring visits, where a PHC technician visits and inspects your trees and shrubs, and then sends you a report.

Curious? Sold? Call us at 800-690-2726. If you’re not in the area, head over to the TCIA’s site and use the zipcode search to find a company that provides these services in your area.

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Plant Ice Resistant Trees

Via the Tree Care Industry Association,

A number of characteristics increase a tree species’ susceptibility to ice storms: “included” bark, decaying or dead branches, increased surface area of lateral (side) branches, broad crowns, and imbalanced crowns.

Included bark results from in-grown bark in branch junctions. This is a weak connection and enhances a tree’s susceptibility to breakage under ice-loading conditions. For example, “Bradford” pear branches often break during ice storms where there is included bark in branch junctions. In contrast, the “Aristocrat” pear has few branches with included bark and sustains less damage during ice storms.
Decaying or dead branches are already weakened and have a high probability of breaking when loaded with ice. The surface area of lateral branches increases as the number of branches and the broadness of the crown increase. With an increased surface area, more ice can accumulate on lateral branches; the greater ice load results in greater branch failure.

Many broad-leafed tree species, when grown in the open, form broad crowns (decurrent branching), increasing their susceptibility to ice storms. Examples includes Siberian elm, American elm, hackberry, green ash, and honey locust. Trees with imbalanced crowns are also more susceptible to ice damage.

Ice storm damage management and prevention
Proper tree placement, away from structures, will reduce property damage. Trees should not be planted in locations where growth will interfere with above-ground utilities – branches that grow into power lines and fail during ice storms create power outages and safety hazards. Trees pruned regularly from a young age should be more resistant to ice storms as a result of removal of structurally weak branches, decreased surface area of lateral branches, and decreased wind resistance.
Professional arborists can install cables and braces to increase a tree’s tolerance to ice accumulation in situations where individual trees must be stabilized to prevent their failure.
After storm damage has occurred, hazardous trees and branches require immediate removal to ensure safety and prevent additional property damage. Trees that can be saved should have broken branches properly pruned to the branch collar (stubs and flush-cut pruning result in weakly attached sprouts and future insect and disease problems). Loose bark should be cut back only to where it is solidly attached to the tree. A split fork can be repaired through cabling and bracing.

Tree species resistant to ice damage can be planted to reduce tree and property damage from ice storms:
Ice storm susceptibility of tree species commonly planted in urban areas
• American elm • American linden • Black cherry • Black locust
• Bradford pear • Common hackberry • Green ash • Honey locust
• Pin oak • Siberian elm • Silver maple

Intermediate resistance:
• Bur oak • Eastern white pine • Northern red oak • Red maple
• Sugar maple • Sycamore • Tulip tree • White ash

• American sweetgum • Arborvitae • Black walnut • Blue beech
• Catalpa • Eastern hemlock • Ginkgo • Ironwood
• Kentucky coffee tree • Littleleaf linden • Norway maple • Silver linden
• Swamp white oak • White oak

(Source: University of New Hampshire, University of Illinois, USDA Forest Service and NH Dept. of Resources and Economic Development.)

Find a professional:
If you are in Connecticut, give us a call at 1-800-690-2726.
If you are elsewhere, call the TCIA at 1-800-733-2622 or do a ZIP Code search on their website.

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Trees and Insurance Coverage

As I write this, most of New England is buried under 2 to 3 feet of snow and ice, and more is on the way. If your trees are suffering, this article may be of interest.
Via the TCIA,

Trees and Insurance Coverage

As winter ice storms give way to spring and summer tornadoes, which give way to fall hurricane season, there’s never a bad time to learn about limiting the financial losses caused by tree damage to your property. What’s covered? What isn’t? How can you minimize your losses?
“Many shade and ornamental trees are damaged throughout the year by windstorms, lightning or ice and snow accumulations,” notes Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association. “Damage usually consist of a few broken branches. However, more severe damage – such as splitting or pulling apart of branch unions, removal of large areas of bark, twisting and splitting of the trunk, or even uprooting – pose possible dangers.”
Homes or belongings damaged as a result of a fallen tree -whether it is your tree or a neighbor’s tree – are generally covered under your homeowners insurance policy. In some situations where the downed tree was on a neighbor’s property, your insurance company may try to collect from a neighbor’s insurance company if the tree was in poor health or not properly maintained. If the insurer is successful, you may be reimbursed for the deductible.

The cost to remove fallen trees may be covered if:
• the tree was uprooted due to windstorm or fell after a lightning strike;
• the tree damaged a structure such as a garage or shed; or
• the tree missed the house but blocks the driveway or handicap access ways.
Your trees, shrubs, plants or lawn are generally NOT covered from damage. Vehicles damaged by debris or fallen trees are covered under the ‘”other-than-collision” (also known as “comprehensive”) portion of an auto insurance policy. This is optional coverage that protects insured vehicles in situations other than a collision or overturn. If the forecast indicates severe weather ahead, cars should be moved under cover to prevent damage from high winds or flying debris.

Tree care tips before the storm
A few tree species, including Chinese elm, silver maple, box elder and various poplars, have brittle wood that is easily broken. These rapidly growing trees cause a considerable amount of damage to homes, cars, buildings and utility lines each year.
“Homeowners should be aware of tree strength and avoid planting them close to potential targets,” advises Andersen. “If such trees are already growing in these locations, preventive pruning, bracing or cabling may help reduce storm damage. This is particularly true as the tree grows in size and the weight and surface of the leaf and branch area increases.”
Over the years, growing trees will “catch” more wind and become heavier, so they are prone to increased mechanical stresses, thus increasing the chances of failure. Large trees will also affect an increase area should they or their larger limbs fall. This means that power lines, homes and other structures that might not have been threatened a few years ago might now be under threat by a tree that has grown.
Preparing trees for these natural disasters is a must and should be done well in advance of the stormy season. To help ease these dangers, have a professional arborist evaluate your trees. Doing this will help you determine potential weaknesses and dangers.
Look at your trees for the following warning signs:
• Wires in contact with tree branches. Trees may become energized when they are contacted by electric wires.
• Dead or partially attached limbs hung up in the higher branches that could fall and cause damage or injury.
• Cracked stems and branch forks that could cause catastrophic failure of a tree section.
• Hollow or decayed areas on the trunk or main limbs, or mushrooms growing from the bark that indicate a decayed and weakened stem.
• Peeling bark or gaping wounds in the trunk also indicate structural weakness.
• Fallen or uprooted trees putting pressure on other trees beneath them.
• Tight, V-shaped forks, which are much more prone to failure than open U-shaped ones.
• Heaving soil at the tree base is a potential indicator of an unsound root system.

Insurance tips after the storm
Remember that a tree is a living thing, and its integrity and stability change over time, so don’t assume that a tree that has survived 10 severe storms will necessarily survive and eleventh. After the storm:
• Closely inspect property and cars for damage.
• Photograph any damage.
• Secure property from further damage or theft. Save all receipts since many insurers will reimburse these expenses.
• Contact your insurance agent regarding coverage and damage assessment.
• Prior to filing an auto or homeowners claim, consider your deductible. If the repair is just over your deductible, it may not be worth filing.

What can you do?
If you’re in northwest Connecticut, you can call us at 860-868-1930. (As always, we offer free estimates.)
If you’re elsewhere, use the “Locate Your Local TCIA Member Companies” program. You can use this service by calling 1-800-733-2622 or by doing a ZIP code search at

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Are your trees being pruned properly?

Via the TCIA,

You may think that the approach of the end of the growing season means you can stop worrying about the trees in your landscape. Think again! Fall is one of the best times to examine the safety and health of your trees, say tree care experts. Why? With the leaves off, cracks defects and deadwood are easier to see. Also, with winter storms approaching, hazards should be removed now – before they damage property.

“Most trees can be pruned year-round,” says Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association, “And certain operations are easier to do in the fall, when dead branches are easily seen and removed.”

Some homeowners worry that arborists will not be able to determine deadwood on a tree when the leaves are off. “On the contrary,” says Andersen. “This is the best time for an arborist to locate deadwood by looking for changes in color, fungus growth, cracks, and other symptoms that can help them make this determination. Since the leaves are off, the view of the entire tree’s architecture is clear and a thorough check can be performed.”
Pruning is much more than the simple act of sawing off limbs. Proper pruning is an art based on scientific principles of plant physiology. At its most basic level, pruning trees, involves removing damaged, dead or structurally weak limbs, which will improve a tree’s health and reduce the chances of personal or property damaged caused by falling limbs.
Professional arborists have the capability to make the tress safer and more attractive by pruning live growth as well. Proper pruning encourages growth, increases flower and fruit production, improves plant health, repairs damage and helps add aesthetic appeal to a tree. Pruning at the right time and in the right way is critical, since it is possible to kill a tree through neglect or over-purning.

How can a homeowner know if an arborist will prune a tree correctly?
“Ask the arborist if they prune according to the American National Standards Institute standard for tree pruning, which is called ANSI A300,” says Andersen.
This standard requires that the recommended use of certain tools, cutting techniques and pruning methods be followed, and sets the standard definitions for terms the arborist will use in your estimate. Properly written work estimates for tree pruning should be written in accordance to ANSI A300 standards.
In addition to the information given on the work estimate, ANSI A300 sets some guidelines for basic pruning practices that arborists should follow.

If arborists are adhering to the ANSI A300 pruning standard, they:
will not leave branch stubs
will make few or no heading cuts
will not cut off the branch collar (not make a flush cut)
will not top or lion’s tail trees
will not remove more than 25% of the foliage of a single branch
will not remove more than 25% of the total tree foliage in a single year
will not damage other parts of the tree during pruning
will not use wound paint
will not prune without a good reason

What can you do?
If you’re in Northwest Connecticut, call us for a free estimate, and rest assured that all pruning is carried out in accordance with ANSI standards, and the health of the tree in mind.

If you live elsewhere, go to, and use the ZIP code search to locate a tree care service provider in your area. Remember to always ask for proof of licensing/accreditation and a current certificate of insurance. And ask questions. If the tree care provider you’re talking to hasn’t heard of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) or ANSI standards, we’d advise you to keep looking. Happy Fall!

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