When it comes to tree care and maintenance, the term "licensed tree service" often conjures up images of expertise and trustworthiness. However, in Virginia, and indeed many other regions, this term can be misleading. Let's dive into what it really means to be a "licensed tree service" and how it differs from being a contractor and a certified arborist.

The Misconception of "Licensed" in Virginia

In the state of Virginia, a "licensed tree service" primarily indicates that the business is a registered entity with the state or locality where the business is located or operates. This is more of a compliance formality, ensuring the company is recognized for tax and legal purposes. It doesn't necessarily reflect the company's proficiency or knowledge in arboriculture. Essentially, this type of licensure is about the business's legitimacy rather than its technical expertise in tree care.

The DPOR Licensure: A Closer Look

Adding to the complexity, Virginia also has a category of licensure under the Department of Professional and Occupation Regulation (DPOR) for licensed contractors. This includes specific industry classifications and specialty designations. The DPOR licensure is more rigorous than a mere business registration, as it requires demonstrating a level of expertise and adherence to safety standards, contract structure and ethics.  This type of licensure has direct implications for tree work and the level of service provided to clients. By ensuring that your tree care professional structures the contracts for the work they are to provide,  you can be confident that you will receive work agreements that are written clearly, concisely, and that they protect all parties involved. It is important to note that in Virginia, no state licensure is required specifically for tree work, however, a contractor that has taken the considerable time and effort to become qualified as a contractor offers confidence in the services they provide. 

The Certified Arborist: A Higher Standard

Contrast this with a certified arborist – a professional who has undergone extensive training, has vetted experience in the field of arboriculture, and passed a comprehensive examination by nationally recognized organizations like the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). This certification speaks volumes about their expertise in tree biology, diagnosis, and maintenance practices. Crown Down Tree Service LLC's owner, an arborist himself, can vouch for the rigorous process that certifies an individual's proficiency in various facets of arboriculture! "What is an Arborist and why should I hire them?" sounds like a great topic for a future blog!

Risks of Hiring Non-Licensed Companies

The grim reality of the low barriers to entry for our field is that there are many tree services operating in our state without any form of license or certification. Hiring such companies can be fraught with risks, primarily due to the potential lack of insurance, which could leave you stranded with the bill for damage or, at worst, liable for any accidents on your property should someone be injured. Moreover, without the necessary expertise, these companies might employ harmful practices, endangering both your trees and safety.

The Value of Licensure and Certification

While being a licensed tree service in Virginia might not directly indicate arboricultural expertise, it does lend credibility to the business. A legitimate licensed business is more likely to have the necessary insurance, safeguarding both the homeowner and the company's workers. Additionally, certifications, particularly from ISA, signify a higher level of expertise and commitment to best practices in tree care and any of these qualifications give the company a stake in responsible business practices that uphold their reputation and continued eligibility for their licensure.

Ask and Confirm 

In summary, while a "licensed tree service" is an important consideration, it's essential to understand what type of licensure is being referred to and what it implies. For those seeking tree care services, it's crucial to delve deeper – check for additional certifications, especially for ISA Certified Arborists, and confirm the company’s insurance coverage by requesting (at a minimum) to see a current copy of the company's certificate of insurance or calling . The health of your trees and the safety of your property significantly depend on the qualifications and professionalism of the tree care provider you choose!

About the Author:

Nate Hardy

Founder & Sole Member, Crown Down Tree Service LLC

ISA Certified Arborist - MA-7004A

With over a decade in the green industry, Nate is passionate about sharing the extensive knowledge he has accrued in tree care and the tools he uses daily. As the owner of Crown Down Tree Service LLC, he champions innovative practices and technologies that advance tree care sustainability and the broader arboriculture industry.

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For more information about Crown Down's licensure, scroll to the bottom of the page and feel free to verify our qualifications! Crown Down is a registered business entity of Prince William County, a state registered LLC with the Virginia State Corporation Commission, a licensed DPOR Landscaping Contractor and is owned and operated by an ISA Certified Arborist!