Q&A With Chappaqua Arborist Bill Davies

Joyce Kilmer was spot on: As lovely as poems are, there’s just something special about a tree. Want to keep the ones in your backyard, garden, or front lawn as lovely—and as healthy—as possible? We chatted with Bill Davies, a licensed and certified arborist who co-owns Westchester Tree Life, Inc., of Chappaqua. Davies is a member of the Tree Care Industry Association, the International Society of Arboriculture, and New York State Arborists, and his company has been providing professional tree care since 1985.

What is an arborist?

An arborist is a specialist in the care of individual trees.  

What does an arborist do?

An arborist helps maintain the urban forest. We’ll help formulate and manage a plan for the long-term maintenance of the trees on a property. 

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What specific services does your company provide?

We remove, prune, shape, cable, and fertilize trees, and grind stumps, as well as provide insect and disease control, plant healthcare, tick sprays, and deer control and deer sprays. 

How do you know if you need an arborist?

Everyone who owns trees at one point needs an arborist to evaluate them. Trees are not in their natural environment of the forest—they’re living with the suburban homeowner and, as such, problems arise with them that might not otherwise arise. 

Why are trees so important to one’s property?

They provide aesthetic benefits and are an investment as well. Trees elevate property value, improve appearance, and provide a screen from neighboring homes. And they aid in the cooling of your house and create shady areas so people can be outside on a hot day. Trees also reduce the costs of cooling in the summer and heating in the winter. And finally, they’re good for the environment—they help produce oxygen, reduce erosions, and absorb carbon dioxide. 

Why do trees need professional care from an arborist?

Because they are susceptible to diseases, insects, pollution, and damage to roots and trunks, all of which can cause injury or premature death. 

What are some of the reasons homeowners call you?

They might have dead trees—one way to tell is that they have no leaves in the summer—or trees that are unsafe. Other people call us as they understand the inherent value in trees and want us to preserve them and keep them in good health. 

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What’s the purpose of trimming or pruning trees?

To maintain them, to have the tree be healthier, to improve their physical structure, for safety—to minimize the risk that branches won’t fall on someone—and for aesthetic reasons.

Why can’t I take care of my own trees? Or have my gardener do it?

Neither of you are licensed or skilled in tree work—it involves a very specific set of skills and it’s among the most high-risk professions nationally.

Pruning or removing trees, especially large trees, can be dangerous, so tree work should be done only by those trained and equipped to work safely in them. Make sure you are using a properly insured tree company.

What time of year should trees be trimmed and how often?

There is no set recommended time of the year and your arborist should advise you on how often a particular tree should be trimmed.

We’re coming up on the second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. What was that like for you professionally?

It was extremely busy and taxing—we had more than 600 cleanup jobs and were really overworked. Some people think, ‘Oh, that’s great for business,’ but, really, most arborists want to make their living maintaining trees and not cleaning them up, a very difficult and dangerous job.

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Any advice for homeowners about their trees and future storms?

Have an arborist do regular inspections of the trees on your property.

How often should an arborist inspect your trees?

Once a year if you have a lot of them and maybe every couple years if you just have a few. 

What’s the tallest tree you’ve climbed for work?

It was 125 feet. But that was in my younger days.

Does everyone always ask you if you know the poem “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer?


For more info: (914) 238-0069; www.westchestertreelife.com

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