Hiring a Tree Contractor

There are no second chances when removing trees.

Tree work is inherently a risky business. If you hire a contractor that is improperly licensed you may be responsible for damage or injury that occurs in the event of an accident, including workers injuries.

California courts have found the homeowners’ responsible for workman’s compensation and liability.

In such cases, to the home owner’s dismay the homeowners’ insurance did not cover the claims.  Protect yourself by hiring a properly licensed and insured contractor.

What you should know before your hire someone to trim or remove your trees.

What license classification does a contractor need to fell and trim trees ?

Tree work costing over $500 requires a D49 Tree Service License. A General Building Contractor is not properly license for tree work unless they are contracted for two or more specialty services or hold a D49 Classification. Gardeners and landscapers also required to have a D-49 Tree Service License.

If your property is forested, then California Department of Forestry (CDF and CAL-FIRE) require a Licensed Timber Operators (LTO) to cut or trim trees. Most of Mono County, including Mammoth and June Lake, fall under this requirement. A & B licensed operators are both qualified to cut trees on non-federal forested lands.

The following resources can help you determine what kind of contractor you need and hire the appropriate contractor.
What Kind of Contractor do I need? What kind of Contractor?
CSLB How to find the right kind of Contractor
CAL FIRE List of Licensed Timber Operators
Before you hire a contractor check with the Contractors Licensing Board and insure they are properly licensed, you can do this online at: CSLB License Check. [/learn_more]

“What are the risks of hiring an unlicensed contractor?

Unlicensed and General Contractors are not insured to perform tree work.  Insurance is very specific, even though a contractor may have insurance in their licensed fields, it probably will not cover tree service operations.

If an accident or injury does occur, your homeowner insurance may not cover damage or injury to person or property if an improperly licensed contractor is hired.

For more information on the difference between general and specialty contractors and the risks of hiring the wrong kind, go to the California State License Board’s website What Kind of Contractor.

Articles regarding court judgments and unlicensed tree workers are listed below:

Home owner’s not responsible for OHSA, but responsible for Workers’ Compensation; Home owners’ insurance did not cover.

Is a permit needed to trim or remove trees?

The Town of Mammoth Lakes requires a permit to remove trees larger than 6. Dept. of Forestry (CDF & CAL FIRE) requires a permit or letter of exemption prior to allowing cutting or removal to occur. [/learn_more]

Questions you should ask every contractor:

Don’t hesitate to ask too many questions — just ask the right ones.  Key questions include:

  • Are you a licensed Tree Service?     Ask for proof or check with CSLB.
  • How many years have you been in business?      Check with your town for a valid business license.
  • Will you put your quote in writing?      If not, be wary.
  • Will you be the on-site supervisor?      If not, who will be?
  • Are your employees trained for emergency situations?
  • Do you carry workman’s compensation insurance for residential tree work?  Ask for proof from their insurance group.

Contact us.

Eastern Sierra Tree Service is a licensed and insured tree service, providing quality tree service by professionals.  Protect your yourself, your investment and your trees.  Contact us for a free estimate at your property.

Topless Trees are Indecent.

Trees must be pruned sometimes to avoid interference with utility lines, buildings, or parts of the surrounding environment. Whenever pruning to reduce a tree’s size is required, avoid the harmful practice of topping.

Topping involves removing all parts of a tree above a certain height with no consideration for its structure or health. This method is not a viable method of height reduction but only a temporary and ineffective solution that actually makes a tree more hazardous in the long run.

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) explains why topping is not an acceptable pruning technique. “Topping is probably the most damaging and detrimental thing a person can do to a tree,” says Sharon Lilly, ISA Director of Educational Goods and Services. “Topped trees are ugly, and the harmful effects usually endure for the life of the tree.”

The destructive effects of topping include:

  • “Starved” trees – Topping often removes 50 to 100 percent of the leaf-bearing crown, robbing the tree of food-creating leaves.
  •  Creation of weak shoots – As a defense mechanism, a tree will quickly grow food-producing shoots (up to 20 feet in one year) that are weak and prone to breaking, resulting in a more hazardous tree.
  •  Added stress for the tree – If a tree does not have enough stored energy, it will not be able to produce the chemicals required to defend the multiple wounds from a disease or insect attack.
  • “Sunburned” trees – The leaves within a tree’s crown absorb sunlight. Without this protection, branches and trunks are exposed to high levels of light and heat, which can burn the tissues beneath the bark.
  • Poor aesthetics – Topping removes the ends of branches, often leaving unsightly stubs and destroying the natural form of the tree. A tree that has been topped can never fully regain its natural form.
  • Higher maintenance costs – Trees that have been topped will need pruning more often, or may die and need to be removed. Topped trees are potential liabilities and can reduce property value.

To help avoid these harmful side effects, ISA advises that trees should be pruned according to the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) pruning standards.  Your Tree Service should quote approved ANSI pruning methods to their customers.  Beware of a tree service that offers to top your tree; they may not be up-to-date on the latest pruning methods.

Call a professional.  Eastern Sierra Tree Service has been offering professional and qualified tree service for over 30 years.  All of our removals and pruning use modern methods and ANSI a300 Pruning Standards.  Call us at 760 934-6142 or in Bishop, 760 873-5014 for a free estimate.


Parts of this article have been taken from with permission.

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), headquartered in Champaign, Ill., is a nonprofit organization supporting tree care research and education around the world. As part of ISA’s dedication to the care and preservation of shade and ornamental trees, it offers the only internationally-recognized certification program in the industry.