FAQ | Skywalker Tree Care
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Here are some of the most common questions we receive.

What does tree-work cost?

Estimates are free. We’ll visit the site and provide a written estimate. Since arboriculture is a highly specialized profession, in order to hire and retain the best employees, we have to provide adequate compensation and benefits (including medical insurance, paid holidays and sick leave). This is the #1 cost of doing business. Our rates also reflect other costs of doing business; advertising (e.g. this website and elsewhere), equipment, shop and office maintenance, various types of insurance, hauling of brush, chips, wood and travel time.

What’s the difference between an estimate and consulting?

Consulting is a service we offer. Estimates determine the cost of a service. Sometimes there is a fine line between the two. Estimates do involve determining the need for a service, and some advice is offered, however, if you wish to spend significant time with the arborist talking about your tree(s) then it may be considered consulting.

Are you insured?

Yes, we carry general liability and workers comp. insurance. Certificates of Insurance are available upon request.

Why hire an ISA Certified Arborist, and what does it mean?

An International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist is someone who has taken the time to study the art and science of tree care, and pass a comprehensive exam. A minimum of three years experience in the field is required to qualify to take the exam. A Certified Arborist is required to complete at least 30 CEUs (Continuing Education Units) every three years to maintain a current certification. In our case, ISA Certified Arborist Michael passed the exam in the early 1990s, and with the exception of a brief sabbatical, has maintained his status ever since. He even took the next step and obtained the highest level of certification to become an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist in 2012. ISA Certified Arborist Sarah passed the exam in 2020.

What’s the difference between an ISA Certified Arborist and an ISA Certified Master Arborist?

An ISA Certified Master Arborist is a higher level of certification. Twice the experience and education are required before one can apply to take the Master Arborist exam. An ISA Certified Master Arborist also must complete 60 CEUs (Continuing Education Units) every three years to maintain this level of certification. An ISA Certified Arborist, 30 CEUs per three years.

Only 2% of all ISA Certified Arborist worldwide have attained Master Certification. Both are required to sign an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist® Code of Ethics.

Essentially, you get the top of the profession when you contact Skywalker’s ISA Certified Master Arborist, Michael Richardson.

Why hire a Certified Arborist over a skilled logger?

The two differ in their skill sets, knowledge and in the physical location of most of their work. Rarely does a logger have to work around structures. Arborists almost always do. If your tree(s) is close to structures or people, or if it requires expertise in tree physiology, you need a Certified Arborist. Beyond in-depth botanical knowledge of trees we learn specialized climbing techniques and how to safely trim and remove trees in close proximity to people, structures and roads. This differs significantly from the logger’s skill sets. When you hire us, you get a very experienced, insured arborist/climber with a proven safety record.

If my job produces logs, can I sell them to a mill?

Yes. We’ll walk you through the process. Depending on current log prices and volume of timber derived from your work, the costs can be reduced by selling the logs.

When is it OK to prune fruit trees?

Late winter before the trees break dormancy is probably best. Light pruning can be done on healthy trees during summer after the leaves are fully formed. Pruning during the initial growth and flowering of spring is a no-no, unless it’s to remove dead or broken limbs.

Do you trim shrubs?

If we are already at your place doing some tree work, then we may consider trimming your shrubs. Mostly, we leave the shrub trimming to the lawn care professionals.

Why won’t you top my tree?

Topping is an outdated, abusive and unnecessary practice. Topping inflicts many large wounds all over the tree. Your tree reacts by trying to seal (compartmentalize) the wounds off from invasion by insects and disease. This process is energy intensive and your tree is weakened and unable to respond easily to stresses, whether environmental or biotic. Topping older trees can start a downward spiral eventually leading to death. Your tree reacts by attempting to replace its lost canopy with multiple sprouts around each wound. These sprouts grow rapidly (on healthy trees) and have weak branch attachments. Plus, the new crown becomes dense and ugly.

Beware of door-knocking tree people—they often recommend topping. It’s also wise to avoid companies that advertise topping.

Do you do spraying, fertilizing, planting or transplanting?

No spraying. Planting, very rarely. Also, we will advise/supervise the proper planting/transplanting of your trees in coordination with your landscape professional. Proper planting and care after planting are very important to the long term survival of your trees. A consultation with Arborist Michael is a worthwhile investment. Fertilizing, yes, in the form of wood chip mulch.

What do you do with the wood/brush from my tree job? Can I keep the wood?

Yes, you can keep the wood. It’s your tree, after all. Brush can be chipped and hauled, or you can use the chips for your own landscaping. The least expensive option is for you to take care of clean-up.

Can you make my tree smaller?

Yes, we have a shrink ray-gun (we wish!). See Why won’t you top my tree? above. Many folks want a smaller tree because it scares them on windy days, impedes a view, shades too much or drops a lot of leaves, needles or fruit. We can offer options to solve or reduce most of these problems.

Why do the needles on my conifers turn brown?

Evergreen conifers (pines, firs, spruce, cedars, hemlocks) all naturally shed older, interior leaves (needles). Western larch and other broad leaf (deciduous) trees shed all of their leaves each fall.

Caution: When the dead leaves are on the ends of the branches, whole branches are dead/brown, or the upper crown has dead limbs, your tree may have a more serious problem. It should be diagnosed by an experienced Certified Arborist, preferably Michael.

My tree has gray, green and orange/brown stuff growing on the bark. Is it OK?

Mosses and lichens commonly grow on trees. It’s okay. As with all tree questions, to be absolutely sure, have us look at it, or email a photo.