Engaging a tree surgeon should not be taken lightly.  It should be treated in much the same way as if you were engaging a plumber or an electrician.

Carrying out works to a tree can be dangerous both to the tree surgeon and other people around them.  We strongly advise therefore that you only engage a suitably qualified and competent person.  Please note applications submitted on your behalf by a tree surgeon will result in your name and address appearing on the Planning Register.

Find a suitable tree surgeon

There are a number of ways you can find a tree surgeon, including:

Advertisements in  the Yellow Pages

Advertisements in your local parish news.

A personal referral

Someone you already know.

The Arboricultural Association, which is the principal national body of the arboricultural profession, maintains a quality assurance scheme for arboricultural consultants and tree surgeons through its register of approved consultants and contractors. The list is available on their website: or by calling 01242 522152.

Are there recognised standards for tree work?

Yes.  There are British Standards for tree work which include most of the common operations likely to be carried out.

The two main British Standards are British Standard 3998:2010 ‘British Standard Tree Work -Recommendations’ and British Standard 5837:2012 ‘Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction – Recommendations.

Will I be breaking the law if I carry out works to my trees?

In many cases trees are protected by law.  These include trees in a Conservation Area or trees that are covered by a Tree Preservation Order

If your trees are protected then you or your tree surgeon will need to either notify the Council or obtain the Council’s consent before works can be carried out. 

How do I know which tree surgeon to choose?

You should always consider the following points:

Is he/she qualified?

Most tree surgeons have a recognised qualification. If they are qualified they’ll be happy to let you have details. Further information regarding tree surgeons qualifications can be found at A Consumer's guide to arborist qualifications : tree care info.

Does the tree surgeon have the necessary insurance?

Given the nature of tree surgery work it is essential that the tree surgeon is insured.

This insurance should include professional indemnity insurance to cover them for the advice they give, but most importantly, public liability insurance should something go wrong.  It is not uncommon for tree surgeons to be covered for a liability of up to £2,000,000.

You should never engage a tree surgeon who is unwilling to show you a copy of his public liability insurance and you are strongly advised at least to ask to see a valid certificate of insurance.

There are very strict regulations regarding safety equipment used by tree surgeons to ensure their own safety and the safety of others around them.  This includes proper signage, especially if working within the vicinity of members of the public and roads.

Obtain a quotation

No matter how small the job is, it is always advisable to obtain a written quotation so that you are sure how much you will be paying, including VAT if applicable. Do not accept estimates for work as these is likely to change.

Is everything included in the price?

The quotation should include full details of the work to be carried out including the removal of prunings, stumps etc.  If you are unsure, ask the tree surgeon if there are likely to be any other costs.

If this is the first time you’ve had to undertake works to trees and/or your are unsure what would be a reasonable cost to pay for the work, it would be a good idea to get at least two (and preferably three) written quotations, but be sure that each quote is for similar works, otherwise this may not help you in making your decision.

All written quotations should include the company or tree surgeon’s name, address and a contact telephone number. 

Clearing away the rubbish

Pruning or felling trees can produce a lot of waste material.  Make sure that your tree surgeon has included the removal and disposal of this in his quotation.  If you are able to burn logs or would like to create a log pile habitat in your garden you may be able to reduce the cost of the work by not having to dispose of these.

Most tree surgeons use a mechanical wood chipper.  The woodchips could be left in the garden to use as a mulch around trees or shrubs. This helps to reduce the cost.

There is government legislation covering the transport and disposal of waste which includes prunings from trees.  Whilst this is the responsibility of the tree surgeon, you may wish to find out more. 

Quick checklist for employing a tree surgeon

  • Find a suitable tree surgeon

  • Is he/she qualified?

  • Does he/she work to British Standards?

  • Does he/she have the necessary insurance?

  • Obtain a quotation

  • Is everything included in the price?

  • Are my trees protected by law?

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