Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about garden plants. You will find concise information on general gardening techniques as well as plant selection and care. For detailed information on specific plant pests and problems refer to our Common Garden Pests and Problems page.

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Horticulture Questions and Answers

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How do I select an arborist or tree service?

All landscape trees require proper care throughout their life to stay healthy and attractive. This maintenance should be routine, but can be prompted by unpredictable circumstances such as wind, lightning, ice, snow, and construction work. It's best to hire a qualified arborist to do tree maintenance, especially on large trees. Arborist are professionals in the tree service industry and can perform a variety of tree maintenance procedures including pruning, fertilization, cabling and bracing, pest control, cavity work, and removals.

Hiring an arborist deserves careful consideration. A qualified arborist will do tree work properly and faithfully. An unqualified person can damage the tree as well as surrounding landscape plants, buildings, and overhead utilities. Here are some tips provided by the National Arbor Day Foundation to held you select an arborist.

1. Check the telephone directory's yellow pages under "tree service" for a listing of those people in the area doing tree work. Although anyone can list themselves in the telephone book, a listing at least indicates some degree of permanence.

2. Most reputable tree repair companies have all the work they can handle without going door-to-door selling their services. People who aren't professional arborists may solicit tree work after storms, seeing an opportunity to earn quick money. Storm damage creates high risk situations for both workers and property.

3. Don't rush into a decision just because the person promises to give a discount if you sign an agreement now. Never pay in advance for tree work.

4. Ask for "Certificates of Insurance" including proof of liability, personal and property damage, and workmen's compensation, then phone the insurance company to see that the policy is current. Under some circumstances you can be held financially responsible if an uninsured worker is hurt on your property or if the worker damages a neighbor's property.

5. Ask for local references. Take a look at some of the work and, if possible, talk with former clients. Experience, education, and a good reputation are signs of a good arborist.

6. Determine if the arborist you are considering is a member of any professional organization, such as, the St. Louis Arborist Association, The International Society of Arboriculture, The National Arborist Association, American Society of Consulting Arborists. Membership in these organizations does not guarantee quality, but does indicate professional interest. Names of certified arborists in your area can be found at the web site of the International Society of Arboriculture, click on "Welcome" then "Find a Certified Arborist", or phone 1.888.ISA.TREE.

7. Certification for arborists is presently not available in Missouri, but in areas where it is, it can be a good indicator of professionalism.

8. If possible, have more than one arborist look at your job and get an estimate from each.

9. A good arborist should be able to offer a wide range of tree services.

10. A good arborist will only top trees under rare circumstances. Topping is very harmful for trees and any arborist who routinely tops trees should be avoided.

11. A conscientious arborist will not use climbing spikes except when removing the tree.

12. Beware of an arborist who is eager to remove a living tree especially if a tree seems to be in good condition. Some people listed in the phone book specialize in tree removal and have little knowledge of or interest in other tree services.