Tree climbers, arborists, tree fellers…whatever you call them, tree surgeons have their work cut out. Not many DIYers would attempt to fell a tree themselves and for very good reasons. Not only is climbing a tree whilst wielding a chain saw a skilled and perilous task, but pruning at height – or getting a tree that can be as heavy as 50 tonnes to fall without damaging anything – is an art form in itself.

That’s why a job like this is best left to the experts. Take a leaf out of our book and follow these steps to find a local tree surgeon with the skill and expertise to sort out your timber-related troubles.

What they do

A tree surgeon’s tasks range from diagnosing tree health and identifying diseases to pruning and removing branches and felling trees that are dangerous or causing problems. It’s not all about destruction, either. They are also skilled in planting trees and taking the steps to restore their health. Not forgetting removing branches and trunks to turn them into firewood.

What they charge

On average, tree surgeons charge around £10 an hour.

One of the most common tasks they are called in to carry out is felling a tree that’s diseased or needs to go as roots are damaging foundations or drains; or too much sunlight is being blocked when the tree is in full leaf.

The cost of this is based on a few factors, including:

  • Size of tree
  • Proximity to other trees or buildings
  • Ease of access
  • Tree condition
  • Disposal of felled tree

What to ask

It’s always sensible to ask a tree surgeon the right questions right at the start to avoid potential problems later on. Here are a few things to get the answers to before the starter cord is pulled on the chain saw:

  • Is the initial visit to quote free?
  • Do they have third-party liability insurance cover and professional indemnity insurance?
  • Is any planning permission necessary?
  • If felling, will they check a tree protection order (TPO) or any other restriction is not in place?
  • What is the best time of year to do the work? (when a tree is in leaf is often a bad time)
  • Is stump grinding and clearance included?

For extra peace of mind, make sure you receive a written quote which details what’s included, what equipment they will provide and if any preparation work is included – plus a risk assessment plan to keep people and property safe during the work.

Trades to trust

Membership or approval from one or more of the following trade bodies shows that your chosen tree surgeon is a qualified and competent practitioner.

The Arboricultural Association (AA) puts its members through a rigorous assessment every five years and also checks they have adequate insurance and are using the correct equipment.

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) is a global organisation dedicated to furthering the knowledge and skill of tree surgeons around the world.

The law

Certain trees are protected by legislation to protect them from unauthorised work or removal such as tree preservation orders, conservation area rules, planning conditions, felling licences or restrictive covenants. Find out more here.

Ready to hire?

3 is the magic number

As always, try and get three quotes from three different tree surgeons to ensure you pay a fair price for the job.

Certification and references

Don’t be shy about asking for any relevant certification, proof of public liability insurance and references or photos from previous jobs. If the tree surgeon is trustworthy and competent, they’ll be pleased (and proud) to show you both.