Tree Care

How to Hire a Tree Company

The state of Georgia and City of Atlanta do not have licensing requirements for tree care companies or individual arborists. The Georgia Arborist Association, however, maintains a list of local arborists certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).

Before hiring a tree care company, verify that the company carries both liability and workman's compensation insurance policies. (The insurance certificate indicates the period of coverage).

  • Ask for an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist.
  • Arrange to meet with a company representative on site to discuss the scope of tree care, and ask for a bid or proposal in writing before work begins.
  • Ask that all tree care recommendations comply with ANSI A300 standards, the industry standard for good tree care.
  • Make sure to address details such as debris disposal, stump grinding, equipment access, and scheduling of the work.
  • Make sure that the company is willing to obtain a permit for any tree removal; a reputable company will be familiar with the process of obtaining necessary permits. These permits are free of charge in the City of Atlanta.

Professional Certification:

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) is a professional organization that offers certification credentials for arborists. An ISA Certified Arborist is an experienced professional who has passed an exam covering a variety of aspects of tree care. Utility, municipal, and climber specialists are certified in these respective categories. An ISA Board-Certified Master Arborist is an experienced arborist who has been pre-qualified and has passed an extensive exam covering all aspects of tree care.


While not required, some companies also obtain accreditation from the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), which is a professional organization that offers accreditation for tree care companies. To be accredited, a tree care company must pass an audit of its safety practices, professionalism, quality of work, and business ethics.

Additionally, the TCIA certifies individuals through its Certified Tree Care Safety Professional Standard.

Beware of:

  • Any tree care company that advertises or recommends "topping" of trees. This practice damages trees, usually beyond repair. Professional arborists will make alternative pruning recommendations.
  • A tree care company whose employees do not wear personal protective equipment. As required by   OSHA, professional companies require tree care crews to wear hard hats, hearing protection, and   safety glasses at all times.
  • Verbal estimates. Tree care recommendations should be in writing, with a total price or hourly rate   agreed upon before work begins.
  • Failure to protect healthy trees. Ensure that the tree company agrees not to damage the critical root   zone of healthy trees while they are pruning or removing trees of concern. For example, ensure that   they avoid operating heavy equipment over the roots of healthy trees.