Domestic Customers

residential-lrgHow to choose a reputable tree surgeon

Trying to find a decent plumber or electrician that will do a good, safe job for a fair price can be a real gamble sometimes.  Get it wrong and the consequences can be expensive and potentially disastrous.

Unfortunately, the same can sometimes be said of tree contractors and homeowners must always check the credentials of tree surgeons before going ahead with work.  Remember, it is a criminal offence to cut down trees with a preservation order without permission, and by not using a qualified contractor, you could face prosecution as a homeowner.

If you are a private homeowner and you are looking for a reliable company to carry out some tree works then the tips below will hopefully guide you on your way. There are plenty of excellent, reputable tree contractors operating in the UK and with a little bit of homework you can ensure you choose one of them.

So how can you make certain that the contractor you choose is going to do the job safely, legally and not charge you over the top prices?

Well, a good place to start is by selecting a contractor who is an Arboricultural Association Approved Contractor.  The Arb Association holds a directory of approved tree surgeons by area and you can rest assured that all contractors listed have submitted their businesses and their tree work to the Arboricultural Association for assessment and have been found competent to provide arboricultural contracting services to clients.  You can search their website here:

Check for insurance.  Ask to see evidence of Employers and Public Liability insurance, which will cover the company, employees and any third parties in the event of an accident.  (Because we work for a lot of local authorities we carry £10 million of cover but £5 million is the recommended minimum level).

Ask what qualifications the staff hold.  There are various levels of qualification for tree work but the industry standards include the NPTC (National Proficiency Test Council) certificates of competence in Chainsaw Operations CS30.1 and CS30.2 and Tree climbing and Aerial Rescue, ACTR02 Units 01 and 02. More advanced qualifications, such as National Diplomas and Certificates demonstrate a much more complete understanding of appropriate work for the situation and will enable the contractor to work to current best practice, British Standard 3998.

Also, reputable contractors do not tend to go door-to-door touting for business.  You should never feel pressured to have works carried out.

Never proceed without a written quotation and it is a good idea to get more than one quote.  Make sure the quote fully details (in a language you understand) the work to be carried out in accordance with BS 3998, how debris will be disposed off, what safety measures will be taken to protect the public and your property while the work is being carried out and who will deal with any permissions.

If your trees are protected by a tree preservation order, permission from the Council is required before carrying out any tree surgery work whatsoever. This permission can be obtained either by yourself, as owner, or by the contractor, as your agent. Failure to gain consent could lead to prosecution of both parties.

Gristwood and Toms is approved by local authorities across the UK and is an Arboricultural Association Approved Contractor.  In fact, we are the largest and most experienced arboricultural contractor in the UK.

You can rest assured that you (and your trees) will receive a first class service.   If you would like help with your trees then call us on 03458 731 500 or email us on