Frequently Asked Questions

Anyone can call themselves an arborist. It is a generic term that doesn’t require any education, experience, licensing or legal performance obligations in the State of California.

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Board Certified Master Arborist credential is the highest level of certification offered by ISA. This credential recognizes ISA Certified Arborists who have reached the pinnacle of their profession. In addition to passing an extensive scenario-based exam, candidates must abide by a Code of Ethics, which ensures quality of work. Fewer than two percent of all ISA Certified Arborists currently hold this certification.

A Certified Arborist has passed an examination, and has at least 3 years’ experience and education as required by ISA.

Certified Arborists, Board Certified Master Arborists and Registered Consulting Arborists have varying degrees of knowledge of arboriculture and working with trees. All people with these credentials are required to continue their education to maintain their certification or registration in order to understand current arboricultural issues, standards, and techniques.

What you know as tree care is known as arboriculture in the tree care industry. It includes the following services that you are probably familiar with — planting, pruning, removal, plant health care, diagnostics, pest ID, emergency care and preservation. But it also extends beyond that to the science behind trees. What is commonly thought of as tree care is just a small part of arboriculture.

An arborist is the person you think of as the tree care expert — the person you hire to prune or deadwood your trees or the person a city or other interest hires to care for trees in public places.

Consulting Arborists are often consulted by other arborists, businesses, legal and governmental entities, environmental organizations, communities and individuals as the voice of authority in complex cases. Our expertise goes beyond routine care to the science of arboriculture.

From tree names, the flora and fauna that live in and around trees, to the most complete knowledge about disease, Consulting Arborists are the authoritative experts on the life and death of trees.

Every consulting arborist in the American Society of Consulting Arborists database is an ASCA member, which means they have at least five years experience in arboriculture and a minimum of a four-year degree or the equivalent in arboriculture or a closely related field or a minimum of 240 continuing education units (CEUs). Those with the RCA after their names are Registered Consulting Arborists® , who have also completed the rigorous Consulting Academy. The Academy sharpens their consulting and communication skills, skills in developing effective written reports, increases their ability to carry out professional and legally defensible forensic investigations and enhances their professional roles in contentious situations. In order to maintain membership status, all ASCA members must be committed to continual education and earn 30 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) every two years.

In all cases, when you hire an ASCA Consulting Arborist, you know you have the very best. With years of comprehensive experience and the most analytical and up-to-date skills, you’ll have the right tree expert for your job! Consulting Arborists are called upon to provide many services. If a tree has damaged property and there is a court case involved, we would be called in to investigate and testify. Or an insurance company might call us to determine the value of a damaged tree. Communities might want us to determine how a new development will impact the environment or someone might need advice on how to plan a park. Consulting Arborists are even called by homeowners and businesses owners to counsel them on long-term planning for existing trees or new plantings.

Whenever you need an authoritative expert, call on a Consulting Arborist. Whether a single consultant or as part of a team of professionals, we bring extensive knowledge. We’re adept at handling complex and involved situations, such as legal issues, environmental impact studies, preservation and historic issues, appraisals, damage and causation, as well as counseling and educating others on planning, preservation and maintenance issues. The more complex the situation, the more you need a Consulting Arborist.

When hiring a Consulting Arborist, there are a few things you can look for. First, look at their education did they attend college or a program specializing in arboriculture? Are they a member of a professional organization? The association for Consulting Arborists is called ASCA. Are they a graduate of the ASCA Consulting Academy? Do they have a professional designation? The official designation is RCA, which stands for Registered Consulting Arborist. You don’t have to find all of these credentials to find a good Consulting Arborist, but if you meet someone who can say all of these things, you know you’re dealing with the best.

Tree care firms provide free proposals for tree work that they propose to do, and build that cost into their proposal. I provide an expert, unbiased analysis of your situation that meets your specific needs and could save you money in the long term. Your trees are investment that deserve the best of care. If needed, I provide specific instructions to tree care firms that reflect your specific desires for how your trees should be cared for.

My fees are based on the amount of work needed to provide you with a solution. In many cases, a short site visit and follow up report are all that is needed. In others, I may need to set up several meetings, site visits, and prepare detailed reports and specifications. Give me a call at 805 252-1952 and we can discuss. There is no charge for telephone consultation, where we can discuss your case and suggest possible courses of action. I only charge what is reasonable for the work involved. If we have a contract that defines an upper cost limit, and If I can accomplish the work for less than that amount, that is what I will invoice you for.

I use the latest updated American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A300 tree care industry standards, and the companion International Society of Arboriculture latest
edition of Best Management Practices. I abide by the ISA Code of Ethics and the ASCA Standards of Professional Practice.

Noted Arborist Alex Shigo once said, “Pruning is one of the best things an arborist can do for a tree but one of the worst things we can do to a tree.” In many cases, trees do not need pruning according to a timetable. Pruning should always have a specific objective, such as improving structure, risk mitigation(reducing the likelihood of failure), provide clearance, maintain health, size management, managing wildlife habitat, or improving aesthetics, among others. I can help you determine what type of pruning to request from tree care companies and how they should do it.

In addition to being against California State Law, topping shade trees actually make them more difficult to maintain due to unstable branch attachments when they grow back. Fruit trees are pruned in a different manner.

I am not affiliated with any tree care firm. I am a private, independent consultant that provides impartial science-based on the latest best management practices and tree care standards.

I cannot guarantee that even a well-qualified tree care company won’t have an off day or have the appropriate credentialed supervisors and staff at your job site. While I can provide names of local tree care companies who I know have done good work in the past, I prefer not to recommend anyone to avoid any show of preference.

Coast Live Oaks and Valley Oaks are my favorite native trees for their endurance, longevity, and beauty. Jacarandas are one of my favorite non-natives. I just love a purple tree in spring. Ginkgo biloba has my respect for its ancient lineage, unique leaves, and fall beauty. Just do not plant a female Ginkgo, the ripe fruit smells like vomit.

Trees have always fascinated me since I watched the Swiss Family Robinson movies (1940 and 1960 versions) where they lived in a giant tree. Mostly I learned over time that trees are living things that will last much longer than me and planting them now provides a gift to the next generation.

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