Winter Tree Care – How to Choose a Qualified Tree Care Company

Winter is a great time to prune mature trees because the cooler weather makes them less vulnerable to diseases and infections. Improper pruning can result in serious, long-term damage to your tree and endanger wildlife inhabitants so selecting a qualified and responsible tree care company is essential for ensuring both are well-protected. When choosing a company, you’ll need to be prepared to research, ask questions and identify misleading tactics.


Experience, education and a good reputation are essential in a tree care company so always ask to see qualifications. Make sure the individuals working on your tree are qualified arborists certified through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). You can do an easy search by name at the ISA website. In addition, ask to see proof of workers’ compensation (WSIB)   as well as commercial liability insurance. This due diligence will help avoid financial responsibility if an accident or damage occurs. Don’t be afraid to ask for local references and always reach out to past clients about the quality of the company’s work.



Being an informed consumer will embolden you to ask questions and gauge practices so be sure to educate yourself on proper tree care techniques. It is important to find out how an arborist will climb your tree. Responsible companies do not use climbing spikes or spurs on a live tree (unless it’s being removed) because they puncture the bark and cause damage. Before initiating any care, a company should thoroughly inspect your tree and have a plan on how to avoid disrupting wildlife or how to ensure wildlife safety if disruptions are unavoidable.


Beware of door-knockers and don’t feel pressured into accepting a “bargain.” Door-knockers pop-up when property owners are more vulnerable to scare tactics such as after storms. These individuals, often non-professionals, try and sell removal services on the spot to earn quick money. Tree removal and pruning can create high-risk situations for all parties involved, including local wildlife, so hiring a qualified professional is fundamental. It is also good practice to obtain more than one estimate and be prepared to pay more for better service. Remember: the lowest bid does not always mean the best or safest work.


Selecting a qualified tree care company will give you peace of mind knowing that your tree and any wildlife living inside it will be properly cared for. For more information, check out our detailed fact sheet or visit Trees Are Good.



Jess Wilkin is the Residential Planting Programs Operations Coordinator. She holds a Master’s of Forest Conservation from the University of Toronto.


LEAF offers a subsidized Backyard Tree Planting Program for private property. The program is supported by The City of Toronto, The Regional Municipality of York, The City of Markham, The Town of Newmarket, The Town of Ajax, Ontario Power Generation and Toronto Hydro. For details on how you can participate, visit


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