InterLinc Home Page

Requirements of Tree Services and Arborists Doing Work in Lincoln, NE

  • Any person for hire who does arborist tree work in the City of Lincoln, as specified in Lincoln Municipal Code 5.06, shall be required to have a valid and current arborist’s certificate/license in order to do such work.
  • A holder of an arborist’s certificate/license must annually renew such with the Lincoln Parks & Recreation Department.
  • Any applicant for an arborist’s certificate/license shall be required to pass a written practical test pertaining to arboriculture and tree work, administered by the Lincoln Parks & Recreation Department as specified in LMC 5.06 or provide proof thereof  they are a certified arborist with the Nebraska Arborists Association and/or the International Society of Arboriculture.
  • Before an arborist’s certificate/license is granted or renewed, applicants and certificate/license holders shall comply with the insurance requirements set forth in LMC 5.58.


How to Hire an Arborist

Hiring an arborist/tree service deserves careful consideration. A qualified arborist will do tree work properly and safely. An unqualified person may actually damage the tree. Unqualified persons may not have proper insurance, leaving a liability burden to the customer that could run into the thousands of dollars.

Remember the following points when hiring or contracting with an arborist/tree service:

  • Lincoln requires that arborists be licensed in order to do tree work within city limits.  Call or email Forestry to receive the most current arborist information as to who is licensed and insured.
  • Check your telephone directory's yellow pages under "Tree Service" for a listing of those businesses which do tree work in your area. While anyone can list themselves in the phone book, a listing at least indicates some degree of permanence. Be cautious of any arborist that advertises "topping" as a service. "Topping" is not an approved tree maintenance practice under normal conditions and will seriously damage the tree. 
  • Ask if the arborist is certified. The International Society of Arboriculture maintains a list of ISA Certified Arborists throughout the entire country and you can search the database by state, city or even zip code. The Nebraska Arborists Association also maintains a list of Nebraska state certified arborists. Certification is not required but it does indicate that the arborist has a high degree of knowledge.
  • If the arborist you are considering is not certified, determine if he/she is a member of any professional organizations, such as the Nebraska Arborists Association, the International Society of Arboriculture or the National Arborists Association. Membership in these and other professional organizations does not guarantee quality, but does indicate professional commitment.
  • Ask for certificates of insurance, including proof of liability for personal and property damage and worker's compensation. Then, contact the insurance company to make sure the policy is current. Under some circumstances, you can be held financially responsible if an uninsured worker is hurt on your property or if the worker damages a neighbor's property.
  • Ask for local references. Take a look at some of the work, and if possible, talk with former clients. Experience, education and a good reputation are signs of a good arborist.
  • Don't rush into a decision just because you are promised a discount if you sign an agreement now. Be sure you understand what work is to be done for what amount of money. It is not generally a good idea to pay in full until the work is completed.
  • Most reputable tree care companies have all the work they can handle without going door to door. People who aren't competent arborists may solicit tree work at your door pointing out a condition that needs "immediate attention" or the "tree will die." If a tree is that close to death there is probably nothing that you or anyone else can do about it. These kinds of people are most active after storm disasters.
  • If possible, get more than one estimate.
  • A conscientious arborist will not use climbing spikes except when removing a tree. Climbing spikes open unnecessary wounds that could lead to decay.
  • Good tree work will not be inexpensive by any means. A good arborist must carry several kinds of insurance as well as pay for expensive and specialized equipment. Beware of estimates that fall well below the average. There may be hidden costs or the arborist may not be fully insured or trained.
  • A good pruning job is often one that cannot be noticed after the work has been done.



Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates Get information about City of Lincoln Services and Operations