How to find a Qualified Tree Surgeon in London

How to find a Qualified Tree Surgeon in London

There are multiple options to consider when it comes to finding a qualified tree surgeon in London.

We made this intricate guide so you get the right people for the job and the best experience when having work done to your trees.


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A Complete Guide to Finding a Qualified Tree Surgeon in London

If you own a tree or have some on your property, you are personally responsible for their health and condition.

They must be in a safe condition and not a danger to persons or any neighbouring properties, and as such, a qualified Tree Surgeon in London should regularly maintain the trees. Tree surgery is a risky business and can be extremely dangerous in the wrong hands.

There are many people out there who claim to be tree surgeons but have no qualifications or insurance to conduct work in a safe and controlled manner.

There is much more to the job than just having a chainsaw and a rope. If you want your trees to stay healthy, you will need the expert advice of a qualified arborist who understands their biology and how trees bear with each cut.

Improper pruning can lead to permanent damage, leave a tree open to all kinds of pests and diseases and, in the worst cases, will cause a tree to die. Any tree surgeon should be proficient, experienced, and fully qualified with the correct training.


Qualified Tree Surgeon in London: What qualifications should a tree surgeon have?

Arborists require lots of training and skills to conduct tree surgery, most of which are compulsory to comply with UK health and safety regulations. This ensures they are competent to climb a tree with a rope and harness, use a chainsaw correctly, and perform work in a safe and controlled manner.

NPTC (National Proficiency Tests Council) is the governing body for tree surgery qualifications. Any good tree surgeon will have at least all the following certificates from NPTC:

  • CS30.1 – Maintenance and operation of a chainsaw.
  • CS30.2 – On-site preparation and basic crosscutting.
  • CS31 – Fell and process small trees 200mm – 380mm.
  • CS38 – Climbing a tree and performing aerial rescue.
  • CS39 – Using a chainsaw from a rope and harness.
  • First Aid at Work with a valid certificate.

Any additional qualifications show that they have gone through more advanced training and had a higher level of understanding. Reputable companies will spend a lot more time and money on training courses for their staff than a rogue company, and that is why they are more expensive.

The more advanced qualifications include diplomas in arboriculture that give them a complete understanding of proper work for every situation presented and will enable the contractor to work to the British Standards 3998 (BS3998).

Regular examinations are carried out on their equipment including safety gear, climbing ropes and machinery. These are known as LOLER checks; a record of tests made to equipment, ordered by time and date.

“A good tree surgeon will make use of warning signs, barrier tape, and cones when working on or next to a public street or motorway.”


Qualified Tree Surgeon in London: How Much Insurance Should a Tree Surgeon Have?

Tree surgery is a risky business, much like scaffolding, and all tree surgeons are expected to be insured for at least £2 million. This amount of cover is the bare minimum, and I would recommend £5 million Public Liability and £10 million Employers Liability insurance.

Remember that if you employ a contractor without a proper insurance policy, you can also be liable for any damage they cause to neighbouring properties or its surroundings, or even worse for causing harm to any persons and or animals.


Qualified Tree Surgeon in London: Should I Be Supplied with a Formal Quotation?

Any professional tree contractor will provide you with a formal written quote after inspecting your trees and giving the customer the best advice, the type of work required, or even a long-term tree health plan.

If you get a written quote, ensure it has the tree surgeon’s name or company details and that they can be referenced across Google. This information will include the name, address, number, and clear description and instructions of the work to be conducted.

You should find out if you are being charged for VAT and how long the quote is valid, ensuring no hidden fees exist. Preferably, works should be referenced to the British Standards 3998, so you know they are going to do their job properly. It would also not hurt to request references from existing clients and examples of their work if not already listed on their website.

A risk assessment should be supplied stating protection measures and how they will keep your property safe from damage. Also, check to see if the removal of green waste is included in the quotation.


Trees with Preservation Orders

A tree with a preservation order, also known as a TPO, is a tree that requires permission before carrying out any work to it. This includes the felling and pruning of trees and means you are not allowed to alter in any way unless you have the approval of the Council.

It is recommended to contact the Council to ask them if your trees are subject to a TPO. Your local tree officer will be able to give you detailed information about this and whether you require one or not.

If your trees are subject to a TPO, you can directly apply for approval to your local Council. If you are employing a tree contractor, they should be able to sort this out for you at no cost and will be able to keep you informed of the progress.

Remember to get consent for works first, as this could lead to the prosecution of both parties, and you could receive a hefty fine from the courts.


Living in a Conservation Area

All properties located within conservation areas must give written notice to your local council six weeks prior to the works being carried out if the tree stem has a diameter of 75mm or greater, measured 1.5 meters from ground level.

Again, you should always consult your local Council about this as failing to comply could get you land you a fine from the courts. All local councils should have the relevant information on their website and downloadable application forms.


Deciding Which Tree Surgery Services You Require

A qualified tree surgeon will be able to carry out a full range of arboricultural services. Standard services include tree felling, tree pruning, stump grinding and tree planting. The more advanced tree surgeons will offer a wider range of services such as tree cable bracing, tree safety reports and emergency tree work.

To ensure you get the right job for your requirements it is highly recommended you have a professional visit your property to assess your trees. They will be able to determine the best pruning methods such as crown lifting, crown thinning, crown reduction/reshaping and crown cleaning.

If you are planning to remove a tree from your property a good company would usually talk to the customers about the possibility of replacing the tree.


Choosing a Qualified Tree Surgeon

Tree surgery is specialist work which requires lots of skill and proper tools and machinery. It is a mistake to cut corners rather than find the right team for your requirements. There are hundreds of companies out there, and it can sometimes be difficult choosing one. Following our tips in this guide will help you choose the right contractor and save you time and money, and the possibility of trouble caused by shoddy workmanship.

Quick Tips

  • Employ a tree surgeon that belongs to a professional organisation such as the Arboricultural Association, Trustmark or Which Trusted Traders
  • Ask for references, ideally from previous clients with photos of completed works!
  • Get up to five quotes from contractors so you can compare prices and general costs involved!
  • Be precise with your requirements and your available budget.


Qualified Tree Surgeon Checklist

Here is a checklist of all the things you should be doing or looking out for. Write these down or make a copy of them, as they will surely help you if it is your first-time getting work done.

  1. Get professional advice and a quotation.

Always get advice and request a written quote from at least three tree surgeons, as you will have a better understanding of the work required and the costs involved. The initial visit should be free of charge but always check first.

  1. Get quotes from approved contractors.

It is advised to get a quote from a company associated with a professional governing body such as the Arboricultural Association. Members are highly skilled and go through rigorous testing to become members.

Quick Fact: Which? Have shown that Arboricultural Association contractors are not always more expensive, and they produce detailed and accurate assessments.

  1. Permissions

Make sure to check if your trees are subject to a TPO or whether you live in a conservation area. A knowledgeable tree surgeon may already know and is a fantastic way to test their knowledge.

  1. Check for Insurance

You should always ask the company how much they are insured for and if in doubt, ask for copies of their most current insurance certificates/documents. All reputable and qualified tree surgeons will be able to email a copy over, and it is sometimes visible on their website.

  1. Check their qualifications.

Tree surgeons require many certificates, and you should always ask the company for a copy of all the climber’s certificates (if not listed on their website) before carrying out the works.

  1. Company policies

Requesting a company’s policies is a terrific way to understand exactly how they conduct their business and conduct work. You should check for quality assurance, customer care, health and safety, wildlife and ecology and environmental policies.

  1. Ask questions.

If you are unsure or in doubt about anything, why not ask? All decent tree surgeons are knowledgeable and will give you suggestions based on the work you are requesting.

Things like “How much pruning do my trees require?” “Does my quote include removal of waste?” or “How long will the job take?” are all perfectly good questions.

Remember – Do not be afraid to ask because if they are not able to answer them correctly, they may not be worth employing.


Avoiding Rogue Tree Surgeons

Rogue traders are a big problem in London and the UK and have been for many years. With the current economic climate, fake companies and rouge tree surgeons are thriving and growing in numbers.

If you are not extra careful you could find yourself a victim of fraud or incompetent workmanship, often leaving you with damage to your property, incomplete work or being completely ripped off.

As you should already know by now, tree surgery is a specialist trade which requires lots of training and certificates. The danger to people and property is extremely high in the wrong hands without the appropriate training, experience, and equipment.

After hearing so many horror stories, we decided to make this guide on how to avoid fake tree surgeons and the telltale signs. This will ensure you always get the right team for the job and are not overpriced or completely conned.


Things to Avoid When Choosing a Tree Surgeon

  • Avoid – Jack of All Trades

Many rogue tree surgeons will claim to have experience in many different trades such as patio laying, fencing, gardening, and driveways. This does not necessarily mean they do not, but every tradesman has unique knowledge and techniques for carrying their job and you want to find a professional for the type of work you require.

  • Avoid – Generic Company Names

You should avoid companies with generic names that can cause confusion or denial of liability. Ideally, you want a company with a brand name as they can be easily tracked down if anything goes wrong.

  • Avoid – Topping and Lopping

Topping and lopping should be avoided at all costs as it bad practice and a destructive pruning method. Anyone using these terms shows a lack of understanding and is not likely to work to the guidelines in the BS3998.

  • Avoid – No Contact Address

All reputable companies will have a registered business address where they can receive standard mail. Never accept work from anyone without an address as you will not be able to contact them should anything bad happen.

  • Avoid – Mobile Only Numbers

Companies that only promote a mobile number on their website or ad can be extremely hard to trace. Anyone can buy a pay-as-you-go mobile phone and easily dispose of it. Insist they give you a landline number registered to their business address.

  • Avoid – Cash Up Front

You should never pay upfront for any tree surgery works as there is no outlay for materials or expenses. Payment should only be made when works are complete, you are happy with the job and the site is left tidy.

  • Avoid – Leaflet and Paper Advertising

Leaflet and paper ads are a favourite form of advertising for rogue traders. I have seen many ads with poor grammar, no address and without a landline. Use a website such as Which, Checkatrade, Trustmark or the Arboriculture Association to find a reputable trader.

  • Avoid – Doorstep Cold Callers

A Reputable contractor will never knock on doors looking for work and should be avoided at all costs. If you are contacted by anyone in this manner, you have a good right to be suspicious. Remember – If in doubt shut them out!


Why You Should Never Choose a Tree Surgery Company Based on Price Alone

Any reputable tree surgery company will have high operating and maintenance costs to keep things running smoothly. They must pay wages for professional and qualified staff, liability insurance, fuel costs and proper tool and machinery maintenance, such as woodchippers and stump grinders.

Rogue tree surgeons will not have anywhere near these maintenance costs. If you are quoted a ridiculously cheap price, you should be very suspicious. You only get what you pay for when it comes to tree surgery, so it if seems too good to be true, it is.


Final Words

Thanks for reading my article, I hope it helps you to find a qualified tree surgeon in London. If you would like a reputable tree company to receive a free quote from, I suggest you contact GraftinGardeners Tree Surgery. They are highly skilled and professional arborists and can cater to all your arboricultural requirements.


The article was written by: Conner Decourcey.

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4 comments on “How to find a Qualified Tree Surgeon in London”

    1. Hi Querino de FREITAS,

      We can certainly help with that and often carry out tree works in the Westminster area 😊

      Our tree surgeons have years of experience when it comes to pruning and shaping trees and will be able to advise you of the optimal percentage to reduce your ash tree by and we also apply for permissions on your behalf if you live in a conservation area or if your tree has a TPO (Tree Protection Order).

      Please do not hesitate to contact us on 0208 123 7653 to arrange a free onsite quotation from one of our tree consultants.

      Alternatively, you can send us a photo of your tree/works required and we could give you a fast and free estimate that way.

      Our email is

      Thanks for your interest.

      GraftinGardeners Ltd.

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