3 Hidden Costs of a Tree Service “Deal” (and How to Protect Yourself)

Is a professional tree service worth it? When it’s time to schedule tree work or tree removal, it can be tempting to choose who to work with based on price only. However, with something as valuable and long-living as trees and as dangerous as tree work, there are several reasons to be more cautious and discerning. 

Here at Riverbend Landscapes & Tree Service, we have seen too many negative after-effects of the work of unprofessional tree workers. So, in this article, we hope to help you make an informed decision the next time you are in need of tree care services.

Keep reading to learn what you’re paying for when hiring a tree care service, how poor tree care can actually cost you more money, and how knowledge, experience, and the correct equipment of a professional tree service can make a world of difference. 

3 Ways Poor Tree Care Can Cost You More

While some services may seem like a bargain, poor tree care can cost you time, money, and aggravation over time. There are many hidden costs of not hiring a professional tree service, but the biggest three have to do with tree health and longevity, the appearance of your trees (which will affect property value!), and safety risks (that will hit you in the wallet!).

  Improper pruning left many blunt branches and fragile new growth on this tree.

1. Trees Die Sooner or Must be Removed

One of the many benefits of trees is their longevity. Depending on the species, a tree can last for your entire lifetime or longer. However, poor or incorrect tree care can greatly shorten a tree’s lifespan.

Tree Topping Kills Trees!

One of the most common ways that we see this is through improper pruning practices, especially tree topping. 

Many “tree guys” will top, or cut off, the top of trees and call it “tree trimming.” What tree topping does is stress out the tree (due to the lack of leaves and open pruning wounds). It damages the structure of the tree, can give pests and tree diseases easy access points, and leads to the tree producing weak branches called water sprouts. These sprouts grow quickly and make the tree look messy and unkempt. 

Topping a tree means that the tree will need to constantly be pruned again and again. If you are a “tree guy” who visits a neighborhood each year, that is a lucrative business plan. However, if you are a tree professional who knows how much this practice harms trees, it is horrific. (Riverbend’s arborists do not top trees)

When we are called in to help a tree recover from improper pruning, we do what we can, but oftentimes the tree will need to be removed. 

The property owner who thought they were getting a good deal on tree “trimming” may have spent much more to continually cut back the tree and ultimately will need to pay for tree removal. 

Improper Planting Dooms Your Tree

We see something similar if trees are planted incorrectly and then covered with piles of mulch (also referred to as mulch volcanoes). If a young tree is planted too deeply and/or is covered with too much mulch, the tree will suffer from a lack of oxygen and decline quickly. 

Trees need to be planted correctly, with the root collar showing. Organic wood mulch is helpful when placed in a 2-to-3-inch layer and not touching the tree’s trunk. 

Hiring a company that knows how to correctly plant trees (and shrubs) will more likely lead to them lasting longer. 

A topped tree with several watersprouts growing from the lopped-off branches.

2. Trees Lose Their Good Looks

When trees are pruned incorrectly, left untreated for pests or diseases, or dealing with stress brought on by lack of water, heat, or other environmental issues, they show it. For example:

  • Tree topping removes the beautiful foliage from a tree, removes the structure of the main trunk, and leads to unsightly water sprouts. 
  • Improper pruning can leave large, gaping holes or branch stubs. 
  • Pests and tree diseases can manifest as leaf spots, cankers, brown needles on conifers, webs, insect damage, galls, and more. 
  • Tree stress can manifest as browning leaves, a less dense tree canopy, yellow spots, and other signs of distress. 

In short, unhealthy trees will begin to look unhealthy, which can lower the beautify (and value!) of your entire property. 

When you work with a tree professional who knows not only how to spot tree issues but how to prevent them, you are left with a much healthier and more beautiful landscape. 

3. Safety is Ignored 

A professional tree service like Riverbend Tree Service will not only have professional certifications and the proper insurance to handle dangerous and difficult situations, but they also will have regular safety meetings for their crew. 

Tree care work is one of the most dangerous professions due to:

  • Towering heights
  • Heavy equipment
  • Sharp tools
  • Large and unwieldy trees
  • Proximity to electrical and utility lines
  • The need to clearly communicate between crew members to avoid injury or property damage 

When a company doesn’t have the right safety or equipment training, accidents are more likely to happen. A quick search on YouTube will show you too many instances of trees falling over on buildings, improperly balanced tree cranes tipping over, dangerous falls from trees, and more. 

For the property owner, this can lead to expensive damage, liability for crew injuries, and possible danger to their family. 

Also, keep in mind that many landscapers and tree guys only have insurance coverage for work done up to 10 or 15 feet from the ground (if they have insurance at all). Since most tree care tasks involve work above that height, you may be liable for any damage or injuries. 

What You’re Getting When You Hire a Professional Tree Service

Now that we’ve looked at some of the costs and dangers associated with hiring tree workers that are not properly trained, licensed, insured, or equipped, let’s look at what you get when you hire a professional tree service that does have those qualifications. 

A close-up photo of one of the Riverbend trucks shows some of the professional certifications held by Riverbend Landscapes & Tree Service.

1. Professional Training Means Better Outcomes For Your Trees

When working in dangerous situations with professional equipment, training is necessary to keep everyone safe, do the job efficiently, and ensure no damage is done to the property, equipment, or people nearby. 

Companies such as Riverbend Landscapes & Tree Service invest time and money into ensuring the team is properly trained and knowledgeable for the situations in which they will be working. 

For arborists, that means going through Certified Arborist training. For pesticide applicators, that may mean acquiring a pesticide application license. For tree climbers, knowing how to correctly climb a tree without tangling all of the ropes, cutting sections of a tree, communicating with the crane operator and ground crew, and knowing how to safely return to the ground are all parts of the job. 

See a video of one of our tree climbers at work below:

2. A Professional Tree Service Obtains Industry Certifications

Industry certifications point to a level of training, expertise, and knowledge about a profession and its related tasks. 

In the tree care or arboricultural field, tree care workers are held to a standard that is reflected in such certifications as:

  • Certified Arborist from the International Society of Arboriculture 
  • Tree Risk Assessment Qualified (TRAQ) from ISA
  • Massachusetts Certified Arborist (MCA)
  • Maryland Licensed Tree Expert 
  • American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA)
  • Trained and licensed tree health care technician

When you hire a professional tree care company, check for certifications such as those above. Learn about what qualifications Riverbend Landscapes & Tree Service has on our About Us page (hint: we have all of those mentioned above!). 

3. Adequate Insurance to Protect You & Your Property

Some tree care or landscape professionals have little or no insurance. Landscape insurance, as mentioned earlier, usually only covers work up to 10 or 15 feet and doesn’t cover the business, employees or customers for any accidents, injuries, or damage caused by tree work. 

Look for a company that carries general liability insurance as well as worker’s compensation. The insurance should specifically cover tree work. 

See what insurance coverage Riverbend has in our FAQs >>

  Some of the professional equipment used by the Riverbend team, including a wood chipper and a skid steer, being used during a Virginia tree removal.

4. Professional Equipment to do the Work Quickly, Safely, & Correctly

Anyone with a truck and a chainsaw can claim that they are professionally equipped for tree work. However, most tree work requires more specialized equipment, especially for dangerous tree removals, trees near buildings, large trees, and more. 

Riverbend Landscapes & Tree Service uses a tree crane for many of our tree removals. This specialized piece of equipment allows us to lift and move large sections of a tree to an area where the tree can be cut apart and disposed of. 

The use of a tree crane also lowers the chance of damage to a property and makes tree removals safer. See more reasons why we use a crane for tree removal in this article. 

Other professional tree and lawn care equipment you may see us use include:

  • Stump grinders to grind out tree stumps after a removal
  • Wood chippers to convert twigs and leaves into mulch
  • Chip trucks to transport the chipped branches
  • Bucket trucks that allow us to reach tall trees without climbing them
  • Log trucks to transport the large sections of wood from a tree removal
  • Arborist climbing ropes to help tree climbers ascend trees
  • An aerator for lawn aeration 
  • And more!

See some photos of our equipment in use during winter tree removals >> 

Why Professional Tree Service May Cost More (Initially)

Large tree care jobs often require a large crew and many pieces of equipment. When you hire a professional tree care company, you are paying for that company’s expertise, equipment, employees, and experience. 

Initially, the cost to hire a professional tree company may seem higher. However, when you take into account how much poor tree care can cost you over time, the overall cost may be far less!

Keep in mind that a healthy and mature tree can also increase the value of your property (and can benefit your neighbors’ property values as well!). If you plan to put your home or building on the market anytime soon, keep the health and beauty of your landscape and trees in mind. 

The Riverbend Landscapes & Tree Service ground crew moves branches and debris from a Virginia property during a tree removal.

Riverbend Landscapes & Tree Service Can Help!

If you want healthy, mature trees that will last and a beautiful landscape, Riverbend can help! Our professional crew is available for a variety of tree, landscape, and lawn services, and we are properly trained, licensed, and insured. 

Click on any of the services below to learn more or simply request an estimate.

Tree Removal >>

Tree Pruning and Trimming >> 

Tree Health Care Management >> 

Emergency Tree Service >> 

Land Clearing >> 

Landscape Maintenance >>

Drainage and Grading >> 


Give Us a Call at 703-402-9366

If you'd like help with your trees or landscape, have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment with one of our Certified Arborists, please give us a call. We'd love to hear from you!

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Logan Jones

Landscaping is in Logan’s blood. Growing up in Great Falls, Logan’s passion for the field was fostered by his family of professional landscapers. This early introduction gave him an appreciation for both the science and aesthetic aspects of the field. After earning his business management degree form the University of Mary Washington, Logan combined his academic and practical landscaping experience to found Riverbend Landscape and Tree Service.