Simcoe Muskoka Tree Services Blog

Closing for season.

Robin, his brother and their wives will be heading south on Monday and will return around the first week of February.  They will be staying at a relatives place when away.

The office will be close during that time.

A short board meeting was held last night, and we will be appointing a new president in the new year.  Officially the position is currently vacant.


Tree Removal Tiny

Maple tree removal in Tiny today.  Will be a job for the crane, close to house and difficult passage to get the wood out.  Crane will lift out in large pieces making work easier and the job cost effective.

So what are the overhead costs of a tree service?

We were asked on Tuesday what the overhead costs were, and why some tree companies were so much lower than others.  A couple of questions really in the one.

First some overhead.  And it depends on what the tree service is providing.  Lets assume they are legitimate and train their employees and have properly Certified Arborists on staff.

a) Education costs – as per Ministry of Labour – First Aid – WHMIS – Job Specific Training – Tailgate sessions

b) Education costs – to maintain Certified Arborists – would typically run around $4,000 per year for a Master Arborist as a minimum cost and upwards of $8,000 for a Consulting Arborist.  A Certified Arborist would run around $2,500 per year on average as minimum.

c) Tools – they wear, break, etc.  One can easily calculate as a minimum $3,000 to $5,000 per employee.  This includes ropes, pulleys, measuring devices, chains for saws, etc.

d) Vehicles – license – insurance – safety – e-test – boom or crane inspections.  Most of the larger trucks are running around $4,000 per year before they can drive on the road to have all tests and licensing completed.

e) Lifts – all lifts need annual inspections as per Ontario law – factor in around $1,000 per year.

f) Insurance – this depends on the size of company and if they have true arboricultural insurance or just that of a general contractor and the amount they carry.  $3 million is considered minimum and most of the larger companies would carry a minimum of $5 million.

g) WSIB – this depends on if the company does line clearance or not and the rates will vary with their volume of work as well as it is payroll based.  In 2013 the owners will not have to pay, it will become mandatory (no more single owner contractors with no owner insurance), and as in the past it is not legal to hire sub-contractors and not pay their WSIB amounts.  This was another loophole that WSIB told us was being closed in our last meeting in Mississauga.

h) Fuel – most crews will easily burn through a couple of hundred dollars a day when on job with heavy trucks.  The bucket truck and crane can each easily burn one hundred dollars apiece.

i) Depreciation – every tool and vehicle needs to eventually be replaced and must be factored into overhead.

j) Office costs – telephone – cell phone – Internet – postage – software – taxes – etc. All must be factored in.

k) Membership – professional association costs – all major companies belong to associations which help to move the whole industry ahead.  This is typically in the $2-3K range for most companies of any size.

l) Advertising – this can vary – in 2012 our advertising costs were in the area of around $11,000.

Note we have not got to labour yet.. nobody has yet been paid for the work!!  Fact is most of these above costs are fixed and come out before the first employee is paid.

Now why are some companies lower than others.  Well they can cut out some costs such as advertising, professional memberships and perhaps not impact much.  But they go beyond that and cut out training, WSIB, vehicle inspections and in some cases insurance!  You see there is a reason the costs are there, it is to protect you, provide you with excellent service and ensure we are here for you tomorrow.

Tree Removal Penetang

Small tree removal in Penetang this morning.  Then some Christmas lights to go up later this afternoon.

Studying for Master Arborist Exam

Sitting here in room studying for Master Arborist course, finished Up by Roots for 2nd time last night and now working on 2nd time through Manual of Woody Landscape Plants by Michael Dirr.  If all goes well I will be applying to write exam early in new year, possibly after the ASCA Academy.

Simplified contact form.

Our request for estimate form has been simplified, we trust you like it better.  Changes were based upon feedback received from customers.

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Special White Pine Harvest

Between six and seven hectares of very special white pine trees are being harvested at the SUNY College of Environmental Sicence’s Huntington Wildlife Forest in N.Y.  This particular harvest is part of a research and demonstration project.  The trees being harvested are around 43 meters tall and close to a meter in diameter.  The White Pine was a special tree, historical importance in the U.S., Canada and Britain.  The tallest white pine in our area was cut by the British in Innisfil, along the Big Bay Point Road area.

The British liked the tall, straight stems on the white pine for the ship masts, but also every structure in the new world (Canada and the U.S) was constructed with White Pine.  It is essentially the tree that build North America.

See article here in ScienceDaily.

Lightning Protection For Your Trees

There are thousands of trees struck each year in Ontario by lightning, in fact we have taken down three such trees in the past two months.  Lightning can kill a tree instantly, or weaken it so that it must be removed due to the risk.

Lightning not only poses a risk to your tree, but to your buildings as well.
Structural damage occurs from side flash, typically to a more conductive material such as a downspout, roof, etc.
Our lightning systems are among the best in the world, and are installed according to ANSI A300 Part 4, providing best practices in installation.
We have installed four lightning systems this past summer, four systems in all, two being quite small actually.  We did two of these while installing Cobra cabling systems in same trees.
A house with a tree within ten feet are most at risk to damage from side-flashes.  We offer lightning protection that can minimize the risk of damage from a lightning strike, these use copper conductors which safely carry the energy to the ground where it is dispersed.


Remember that lightning strikes are unpredictable, and no protection cannot be guaranteed, however these systems have proven to be effective and affordable under these standards.

Tall trees are the most susceptible to lightning strikes. Heritage trees, features trees in landscape and those close to structures are prime candidates for protection.

Protection requires a significant amount of climbing, in the largest tree this year we had to put three conductors to the top, it also requires a significant amount of material.  But it is worthwhile to know your tree has some added measure of safety.

Any lightning protection systems needs to be  be inspected annually by a qualified tree company and systems will require periodic servicing to extend conductors as tree grows.  To our knowledge there are only a handful of companies authorized and trained on lightning protection systems in Ontario.

Good Tree Pruning Practices

  • If you aren’t sure how, when, and where to prune a tree then DON’T.  Restoration pruning, if possible is always more costly.
  • Always use right pruning tool.
  • Do not leave stumps, always cut back to a leader or branch that is at least three times size of branch being cut.
  • If you constantly need to prune a tree for size, then it is likely the wrong tree for the location.
  • Do not use pruning paint or wound dressing.
  • Do not flush cut – this allows decay to enter the dominant or parent stem.
  • Do not wait until tree is big, formative pruning of a small tree will save you hundreds of dollars later.
  • Do not cut the tops off of trees, even small trees.
  • Never work within 3 metres of power line – it is in fact illegal.
  • Never climb more than 3 metres off of ground – hire a company to help you.
  • If it is not your tree, be polite and obtain permission first.
  • Always use the three cut method for larger limbs.
  • Prune at proper time of year, which can vary for species.  But is usually NEVER in summer late spring or early summer months.
  • Follow ANSI A300 Pruning standards.
  • Do not clean or shape wounds on plants.
  • For qualified help when hiring a pro, insist that an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist be present.
  • Pruning cuts are wounds and will remain with tree for the rest of its life.
  • Never take more than 25% of the foliage in a single season (less for larger or older trees).
  • Keep pruning shears and saws sharp.

Certified Arborist – Simcoe Muskoka

We have Certified Arborists on Staff, but what is a Certified Arborist.

Lets look at defination on website.

You see there are many claiming to be Certified, Licensed, etc.  But what is reality.

Reality is:

a) there is no such thing as a licensed arborist in Ontario

b) Certified Arborists can be verified at ISA – ISA holds the trade mark to the title Certified Arborist worldwide

c) arborists require classroom training and an exam – any without this are simply tree workers

d) Ontario Colleges offer a certification known as Qualified Arborist – which counts as experience towards gaining a Certified Arborist if the student wishes to move their career upward.

Verify all claims, as there are many out there attempting to fool you by falsifying their credentials.