Monday, April 6, 2009
GUEST COLUMNIST: Jon Schach, ISA Certified Arborist PD-1580A. Jon is an arborist representive for Good’s Tree Care Inc. of Harrisburg.
Tree Guys are Not all The Same, Buyers Beware
In a down-turned economy we are all out for a bargain. If it’s not a bargain, most of us will walk away from the table. We’ll put off buying the new car or the new couch until we get through the slump, or until that year end bonus comes in. Some purchases can’t be put off however; a painful toothache, faulty wiring in the basement, or a large dead tree towering over your property. In the first two instances most of us will hire a professional. We look for the letters DDS or DMD at the end of the name on the door before we let someone take a drill to our mouths. We do some research to make sure that the electrician that we hire to repair faulty wiring in our home is a certified journeyman with a reputable firm.
Unfortunately, the same rigor is not always applied when we hire a tree service to remove the large dead tree in the yard or for other tree related services. Instead, many look for the bargains in the kid that mows the lawn, the handy-man neighbor with the reciprocating saw and a ladder, or the wife’s uncle who worked for a couple of years as a logger in Maine in the 1970s. More commonly, we sign up for the bargain offered by the “tree guy” that comes in with the lowest price out of several who stop by after you blitz the yellow pages for free estimates. Buyers beware.
Tree guys are not all the same. In the state of Pennsylvania you need a license to cut hair professionally, but you don’t need a license for cutting trees in the same capacity. Anyone with a saw and a pickup truck can respond to your call for tree work, and say, “I am the man for the job.” It is up to you to decide if that is indeed the case. So what should you look for in a tree service? At a bare minimum, you should ask for proof of workman’s compensation insurance for all employee’s working on your property, as well as, sufficient liability insurance specifically covering tree care related operations before you allow a tree service to perform work in or on your trees.
Say for instance you hire the “tree guy” with a saw and a pickup truck to take down the huge tree in your yard. Chances are he won’t do it alone. He’ll call a couple of buddies to help him out. In this scenario, say the buddy breaks his leg or suffers a severe head injury while working at your house. If the “tree guy” doesn’t carry worker’s compensation insurance for his buddy, chances are the buddy will have to sue someone to pay for the medical bills. Well he isn’t going to sue the “tree guy,” because what is he going to do with a saw and an old pickup truck? He is going to sue you.
Or same instance different scenario, you hire the “tree guy” and things don’t go quite as planned and the big dead tree is now occupying the space that was once your upstairs bedroom, hallway, and bathroom. When you find out that the “tree guy” doesn’t carry liability insurance to perform pruning and removals of large trees, you are going to want to sue for damages. But then you ask yourself, “What do I need a saw and an old pickup truck for?
My reason for writing is not to instill fear and distrust in the homeowner looking to hire a tree service, nor is it to destroy the reputation of several small legitimate tree services in our region. Rather, I write to offer an explanation for why the estimates you receive for services tend to vary a great deal; The playing field is not always level. Further, I write to expose the risk and liabilities involved for both homeowner and individuals involved in tree related services performed without sufficient coverage in the event of an accident.
This current economic climate sets the conditions for a race to the bottom. As buyers of services we seek out the lowest price, the bargain, even if that price carries risks. On the other side of the transaction are a growing number of guys with saws and pickup trucks laid off from companies that had always handled the details of indemnity. Work that involves pruning or removal of trees carries inherent risk. Don’t make matters worse buy bargain shopping. You hire the dentist and the electrician because your life and property depend on it. Make a point to hire a professional tree service, because the same is true. Look for companies that are accredited by the Tree Care Industry Association (formerly the National Arborists Association) and staffed by arborists certified by the International Society of Arboriculture. Doing so will help insure that your trees and property are cared for safely, efficiently, and in a manner that follows the best practices standards developed by the tree care industry.
Jon Schach, ISA Certified Arborist PD-1580A
Jon is an arborist representive for Good’s Tree Care Inc. of Harrisburg.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
I’ve wanted a gardening knife. I’m told they make weeding and dividing a breeze. After today, I’m convinced I need one. I need a knife for a desperate fight. I am embroiled in a war and I’m concerned it may go on all summer.
I took home a strange plant I met at a farmers market a few years ago. I thought it was good looking, so I planted it. A dear friend had warned me about that sort of thing. She always goes online and does a background check before planting anything.
She’s right. I’ve learned the hard way. Invasives invade. Like the marauders on those credit card commercials, they can be brutal.
I should have educated myself by searching on line or looking in a book before I added the innocent looking delicate flowering Pink Evening Primrose, Oenothera sp., in one of my more meticulous ornamental beds. It is actually a native of the southwest and a good choice for a large dry area where it could romp. It is prolific flowering and growing.
This is how bad it is. The plant is terribly impolite. It’s gotten right in the face of my favorite plants and even entangled its root system with theirs. Can you imagine? I'm having trouble digging it up without uprooting my other plants. I'm concerned for that garden. I may have lost it to the primrose.
I have seen this plant out and about as well. It isn’t only to be found in back alleys. I purchased more of it last year at a high-end garden center. Invasives are out there, looking good and looking classy, and just waiting for a naïve gardener to take them home and put them in a garden bed.
Better get that knife if you don’t want to do background checks first.