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Tree Care: How To Tell If You Need An Arborist

Cortnye Stone, 615-862-8779

What is an arborist? By definition an arborist is an individual who is trained in the art and science of planting, caring for, and maintaining individual trees to ensure they are healthy and safe.

In the past few months, our community’s trees have endured a lot of strong winds and notably the fierce winds of a tornado. Whether your trees were affected by the tornado or not, it is a good time to have them evaluated by a professional arborist. If your tree has suffered structurally, an arborist can assess its health and help with decisions on what needs to be addressed.

Has your tree grown too large for its location? An arborist can utilize a crown reduction pruning technique that reduces the overall tree size while keeping the tree’s structural integrity and natural form intact. This is different from a pruning technique known as “tree topping” which cuts back all top branches. Tree topping removes the branches that are crucial for growing leaves which are necessary for food production for the tree to live.

An arborist can assist in evaluating ash trees on your property. The Emerald Ash Borer is an insect pest in Davidson County that will kill 100% of our native ash trees unless they are treated with insecticides. The arborist will determine if your ash tree is healthy and will recommend treatment methods or removal. An arborist can detect other tree pests and diseases that can affect the health of your trees.

If you have a young tree that was planted three years ago and has become established, now is the time to review the tree’s form and make needed proactive pruning. With the assistance of an arborist, these cuts will create proper spacing of the branches. The tree will be sustainable as it grows, having less structural failure and less maintenance needs in the future.

Here are considerations for hiring an arborist to ensure they’re qualified to do the work:

  • Ask for proof of worker’s compensation, liability insurance and references.
  • Get written bids with start and completion dates.
  • Determine the hourly rate for additional services if needed.
  • Get detailed contracts with signature.
  • Make sure cleanup and proper disposal are included.

The Metro Nashville Brush Collection program is not for commercial properties or to be used by the professional tree care industry. Arborist Certification is obtained through the International Society of Arboriculture. For more information, visit

The Metro Tree Advisory Committee’s mission is to promote tree planting and preservation throughout the city.