12 Best Arborists in the San Francisco Bay Area [2021]

Last modified on: September 10, 2021


You’ve noticed that your landscaping trees are looking a little less than lively. The foliage isn’t as brilliant as it once was and you’re thinking it’s time to call a tree specialist to deliver some TLC. The task of finding the best arborist in San Francisco seems daunting, though.

Where do you start, and how are you supposed to know which is right for your needs?

Don’t worry - we’re here to help. 

To make the search for a tree specialist a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of the top local tree experts in the Bay Area, and what makes them all unique. 

Once you’re finished with this article, you’ll have all the information you need to make an informed tree care choice.

Let’s dive in. 

best arborist san francisco bay area

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Who Are the Best Arborists in the San Francisco Bay Area?

1. Smith’s Pest Management: Best Overall

smith's logo

Why Smith’s? 

It’s our blog, so we’re putting Smith’s at the top of the list. There are a few reasons for this. The first is quality.

Today, most tree companies aren’t actually very careful, precise, scientific, passionate, or results-oriented when it comes to soil issues, insect issues, tree fertility, irrigation, and other essential elements of tree healthcare. 

Instead, many arborists treat the business like a cash cow:

Throw generic fertilizer and bug spray on every tree they see and call it good.

No follow-up.

No tailored management plans.

Nothing. 

Because of this philosophy, many arborist companies do more harm than good to area trees.

Fortunately, Smith’s takes a different approach. We’re a conscientious tree doctor who follows up and takes great interest in the outcome of tree health issues.

Our team prides itself on precision. When you hire us for arborist services, you get access to a true tree disease specialist.

We’ll evaluate tree health from all angles. Our team includes irrigation and soils experts with a deep understanding of the ecosystem that the tree grows in and how that impacts tree health. We’re the best certified arborist for a reason. 

While other tree care companies may advertise all this, none of them will follow up like Smith’s does.

Company Headquarters? San Francisco, CA

Serves the San Francisco Bay Area?  ✓

Locally owned / family-owned?

Certified arborists?

Get a free quote? ✓

Offers tree disease management?

Offers drought-proofing services?

Offers tree fertilization services?

Offers commercial tree services? ✓

BBB Rating? N/A

Google Reviews rating? 4.7 out of 5 stars

Online chat? ✓

 

2. Davey Tree

davey tree logo

Davey Tree is a full-service arborist with headquarters in Kent, OH. The company has locations in 47 states and provides professional and shrub care services backed by a company-wide guarantee. 

Since Davey Tree is a national chain, customers interested in working with this tree surgeon must visit the company’s website to find their local arborist team and access a menu of regional services. 

Company Headquarters? Kent, OH

Serves the San Francisco Bay Area?  ✓

Locally owned / family-owned? Yes, locally owned as part of franchise

Certified arborists?

Get a free quote?

Offers tree disease management?

Offers drought-proofing services?

Offers tree fertilization services?

Offers commercial tree services?

BBB Rating? 2.21 out of 5 stars. This business is BBB accredited, with an A+ rating. 

Google Reviews rating? 4.16 out of 5 stars average across Bay Area locations

Online chat?

 

3. Bartlett Tree Care

bartlett tree care

Bartlett Tree Experts was founded in 1907 by Francis A. Bartlett. The company serves both residential and commercial customers and provides contract services for government entities. 

Bartlett Tree Experts offers ISA-certified arborists that provide a variety of accredited tree care services. 

The nationwide company has nearly 100 local offices that operate in 26 US states, as well as Ireland, Canada, and Great Britain. While this global reach is appealing for some, it may be a drawback for customers who are looking for a smaller, more local team. 

Company Headquarters? Stamford, CT

Serves the San Francisco Bay Area?  Yes

Locally owned / family-owned?

Certified arborists?

Get a free quote?

Offers tree disease management?

Offers drought-proofing services? ✓

Offers tree fertilization services? ✓

Offers commercial tree services?

BBB Rating? 2.21 out of 5 stars. This business is BBB accredited with an A+ rating.

Google Reviews rating? 3.73 out of 5 stars across Bay Area locations

Online chat?

 

4. Monster Tree Service

monster tree service

Monster Tree Service provides a wide variety of tree services for residential and commercial customers in California. Services offered include tree removal, pruning and trimming, emergency services, and plant health care. Customers who want to contact Monster Tree Service quickly, however, may be disappointed by the team’s lack of online chat. 

Company Headquarters? Fort Washington, Pennsylvania 

Serves the San Francisco Bay Area?  ✓

Locally owned / family-owned?

Certified arborists?

Get a free quote?

Offers tree disease management?

Offers drought-proofing services?

Offers tree fertilization services?

Offers commercial tree services?

BBB Rating? 1 out of 5 stars / A+ rating

Google Reviews rating? 4.76 out of 5 stars across Bay Area locations

Online chat? ✗

 

5. Bay Area Tree Specialists

monster tree service logo

Bay Area Tree Specialists provides residential and commercial tree care services to San Jose, Palo Alto, the South Bay, and the SF peninsula. The teams of certified arborists also provide 24-hour emergency tree care and removal services. 

Company Headquarters? San Jose, CA

Serves the San Francisco Bay Area?  ✓

Locally owned / family-owned?

Certified arborists?

Get a free quote?

Offers tree disease management?

Offers drought-proofing services?

Offers tree fertilization services?

Offers commercial tree services?

BBB Rating? A+ rating. This business is not BBB accredited. 

Google Reviews rating? 4.7 out of 5 stars

Online chat?

 

6. Commercial Tree Care

commercial tree care logo

Commercial Tree Care has been providing arborist services since 1992 and prides itself on quality service and customer satisfaction. While the name indicates that the company only provides commercial tree services, this team does serve residential customers and provide emergency services, as well.  

Company Headquarters? Santa Clara, CA

Serves the San Francisco Bay Area?  ✓

Locally owned / family-owned?

Certified arborists?

Get a free quote?

Offers tree disease management?

Offers drought-proofing services?

Offers tree fertilization services?

Offers commercial tree services?

BBB Rating? 1 out of 5 stars. This business is not BBB accredited. 

Google Reviews rating? 3.2 out of 5 stars

Online chat?

 

7. Anderson's Tree Care 

andersons tree care logo

Anderson’s Tree Care provides a comprehensive assortment of tree management services, including planting, removal, pruning, and disease treatment. Headquartered in San Jose, this is a local company that serves both commercial and residential customers in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Like several of the other companies on this list, Anderson’s does not provide drought-proofing services, which can be a drawback for California customers who want to protect their landscaping trees. 

 

Company Headquarters? San Jose, CA

Serves the San Francisco Bay Area?  ✓

Locally owned / family-owned?

Certified arborists? ✓

Get a free quote?

Offers tree disease management?

Offers drought-proofing services?

Offers tree fertilization services?

Offers commercial tree services?

BBB Rating? A+. This business is not BBB accredited. 

Google Reviews rating? 4.6 out of 5 stars

Online chat?

 

8. Agri-Con Tree Care

agri con tree care logo
Agri-Con Tree Care is a full-service tree company that provides services for both commercial and residential customers. The company’s services include trimming, thinning, pruning, emergency and storm services, and more. 

While some customers complain of spotty communication and customer service, the company has generally good reviews. 

Company Headquarters? San Jose, CA

Serves the San Francisco Bay Area?  ✓

Locally owned / family-owned?

Certified arborists?

Get a free quote? ✓

Offers tree disease management?

Offers drought-proofing services?

Offers tree fertilization services?

Offers commercial tree services?

BBB Rating? N/A. This business is not BBB accredited. 

Google Reviews rating? 4.8 out of 5 stars

Online chat?

 

9. West Coast Tree Care

west coast tree care

West Coast Tree Care provides services like pruning, deep root fertilization, and more. The company has its headquarters in San Jose. Unfortunately for customers, the company’s website offers very minimal information about its services, pricing, and philosophy – especially compared to the other companies on this list. 

Company Headquarters? San Jose, CA

Serves the San Francisco Bay Area?  ✓

Locally owned / family-owned? N/A

Certified arborists?

Get a free quote?

Offers tree disease management?

Offers drought-proofing services?

Offers tree fertilization services?

Offers commercial tree services? N/A

BBB Rating? A+. This business is BBB accredited. 

Google Reviews rating? N/A

Online chat?

 

10. Ian Geddes Tree Care

ian geddes

Ian Geddes Tree Care has been providing tree care services to customers in San Jose, Los Gatos, Saratoga, and other cities throughout the Bay Area for 35 years. 

The team provides tree removal, tree pruning, stump grinding, fertilization, emergency services, and more. Customers are generally happy with the company’s services and complaints are infrequent. 

The team does not, however, offer drought-proofing services, which may be a downside for some Bay Area customers.  

Company Headquarters? Saratoga, CA

Serves the San Francisco Bay Area?  ✓

Locally owned / family-owned?

Certified arborists?

Get a free quote?

Offers tree disease management? ✓

Offers drought-proofing services?

Offers tree fertilization services?

Offers commercial tree services?

BBB Rating? A+. This business is not BBB accredited. 

Google Reviews rating? 3.0 out of 5 stars

Online chat?

 

11. Cagwin & Dorward

cagwin logo

Cagwin & Dorward has been in business since 1955. A full-service landscape provider, the team offers a variety of services, including tree care for customers throughout the Bay Area. 

Unlike many of the other companies on this list, this team’s services extend into general landscaping, irrigation management, and lawn care services. 

The downside of Cagwin & Dorward’s services, however, are that they’re only available in California and that the website offers minimal information on pricing, which can make it difficult for would-be customers to plan for their arborcare needs. 

Company Headquarters? Petaluma, CA

Serves the San Francisco Bay Area?  ✓

Locally owned / family-owned?

Certified arborists?

Get a free quote? ✗

Offers tree disease management? ✓

Offers drought-proofing services?

Offers tree fertilization services?

Offers commercial tree services?

BBB Rating? 5 out of 5 stars. A+ rating. This business is not BBB accredited. 

Google Reviews rating?  3.71 out of 5 stars average across Bay Area locations

Online chat?

 

12. Arborwell

arborwell logo

Arborwell got its start in 2001 in the Castro Valley. Today, the company provides a wide variety of commercial and residential tree and arborcare services to customers throughout the San Francisco Bay area. While Arborwell does offer many services, the company does not provide drought-proofing services for local trees. 

Company Headquarters? Hayward, CA

Serves the San Francisco Bay Area?  ✓

Locally owned / family-owned?

Certified arborists? ✓

Get a free quote? ✓

Offers tree disease management?

Offers drought-proofing services?

Offers tree fertilization services?

Offers commercial tree services?

BBB Rating? A+ rating. This business is not BBB accredited. 

Google Reviews rating? 4.4 out of 5 stars average across Bay Area locations

Online chat?

 

How to Choose the Best Arborist in the San Francisco Bay Area

bay area arborist assessing treeImage: Wayne National Forest via flickr / CC by SA 2.0

Trees along the Central Coast face a unique set of environmental conditions. They must live in dramatic environments full of wind, rain, salt air, sun, and drought. 

As such, choosing an arborist who knows how to take care of San Francisco Bay Area trees is critical. 

Here are a few tips for finding the right fit:

1. Check for ISA certified arborist credentials

The arborist you choose should have a membership with professional organizations like the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). 

To obtain membership, arborists must demonstrate a commitment to quality and a willingness to maintain pace with current best practices on tree care. ISA-certified arborists have passed the ISA’s examination requirements on tree care and maintenance.

Knowledge of trees and specialty in trees and tree diseases
Before you choose a tree care specialist, it’s essential to ensure that specialist understands the trees or tree diseases you have on your property. 

Ask the arborist about their area of specialization and choose a reputable tree care company that can treat any diseases you have present on your property.

2. Licensing and insurance

Before you hire an arborist, check for proof of insurance and licenses from the service provider you want to work with. The license should indicate that the arborist is registered and in compliance with all state requirements. 

The insurance, meanwhile, should outline worker’s compensation and general liability coverage that will kick in in the event of personal property damage. 

3. Check References and Reviews

When you have a long list of arborists to choose from, references are an excellent tool to help you select the one that’s best for you. Ask the arborist in question for a list of current references. Once you have the list of references in hand, check them all. 

Contact any listed character or professional references to ensure the arborist you’re dealing with is truly an expert. Yelp, Google, and Better Business Bureau (BBB) reviews and references are also excellent sources of information about a potential arborist. 

4. Request a Written, Detailed Estimate

Even arborists who provide similar services may charge very different prices for those services. With that in mind, it’s important to shop around for estimates before you decide on an arborist. 

Once you’ve examined the credentials and qualifications of the staff and team, ask them to provide a detailed estimate for the services you need. Get estimates from 3-4 companies and compare them before you decide on an arborist to hire. 

While getting estimates from a few companies takes a bit of extra time, it’s an excellent way to save money and find the team that’s truly right for you. 

5. Be Wary of Low Costs

While saving money on an arborist is an attractive prospect, it’s important to be wary of any company that provides a very low estimate. Proper tree work is not inexpensive. 

While you don’t need to break the bank to find a great arborist, you should be spending enough to secure a licensed, insured, and reputable team. 

Exceptionally low estimates are generally an indication that the company in question will not provide quality services, and possibly even that the company is not licensed or insured. 

Important FAQs

tree care specialist bay areaImage: UC Davis Arboretum via flickr / CC by SA 2.0

Q: Are Arborists in the San Francisco Bay Area Worth it?

You may think that you can maintain your own trees and shrubs, and that you don’t need to invest in an arborist. 

What sets the services of an arborist apart from DIY tree care, though, is that arborists are specialists with extensive knowledge of the care and maintenance of trees. If you’ve invested good money in your landscaping trees, hiring an arborist is an investment that will lead to substantial returns. 

In addition to adding value to your property, well-cared-for-trees are simply more attractive and robust than their less-cared-for counterparts. Additionally, pruning, removing, or limbing trees can all be dangerous, and require the assistance of an arborist who is trained and equipped to work safely on trees. 

Q: When Should I Call an Arborist in the San Francisco Bay Area?

As a general rule, you should call an arborist as soon as you think you may need one. Waiting too long to contact an arborist only allows any present tree diseases or conditions to get worse, and makes existing problems more difficult to treat down the road. 

Here are a few times when it is critical to contact an arborist in the San Francisco Bay Area:

  • You have a tree that is dead or dying.
  • You notice that your trees have dead or weak limbs, or are infested with insects.
  • You notice signs of disease or damage on existing or young trees.
  • A storm or natural disaster caused tree limbs to fall or break, and you need an expert to help you remove them. 

In addition to providing emergency services, arborists can also provide routine care and maintenance services to keep trees healthy and strong. 

Q: What is the Difference Between an Arborist and a Tree Service? 

Arborists and tree services provide similar services, but they’re not the same thing.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the differences between the two:

A tree service in San Francisco will usually provide routine services, like pruning, or emergency services, like tree and limb removal. These companies are not, however, expert tree maintenance experts, and are typically not skilled in the application of fertilizers and treatments, or the management of tree diseases. 

Certified arborists, on the other hand, are trained to evaluate trees closely and make expert recommendations. They will not recommend services that will be harmful to your trees, or which will cause additional damage to your property. They are also professionally trained and equipped to deal with issues like tree diseases, drought, and insect infestation. 

To protect your property and your investment, we recommend always hiring a certified arborist over a tree service. 

Q: How is Tree Health Diagnosed?

One common service arborists provide is tree health diagnosis. Tree health diagnosis is a fee-based professional consulting service offered by most arborists. To deliver this service, the arborist will visit the property in question and collect information about the historical and current state of the property, including issues like weather events, irrigation issues, and soil disturbances. 

With this information in hand, the arborist will assess several different factors of tree health, including:

  • Any present risks to the health or life of the tree.
  • The proper response to treating the tree to minimize or eliminate the threats or risks to the tree.
  • And more

If you’ve never had a tree health assessment performed on your property, doing so is an excellent way to take a proactive step to caring for your landscaping trees. 

Q: How do I Know if my Tree is Dying?

signs of dying tree

The earlier you spot a dying tree, the better your chances of saving it.

With that in mind, here are a few surefire signs of a dying tree:

  • Brown or brittle bark
  • Leaves dropping frequently, with little healthy leaves left
  • Dead wood.
  • The tree is affected by insects, fungus, or disease.
  • There are signs of root damage, including thinning foliage, poor yearly growth, dead branches, or wilted, brown leaves during the growing season.
  • It displays odd growth patterns or leans at an angle of more than 15 degrees from vertical.
  • The cambium layer of the bark on a living tree is green and vibrant, but will be brown and dry on a dying tree.

If you notice signs of a dying tree, take heart. It is possible to save the tree. Contact a skilled arborist as quickly as possible. The team will evaluate the tree and administer life-saving treatment. 

Q: How Often Do You Need an Arborist?

As a general rule, we recommend having your trees professionally inspected by a tree doctor every 3 years, or as frequently as the needs and current health of your tree demand. If you have high-risk trees (those affected by insects, disease, or severe weather, for example), you may want to invest in the services of an arborist more frequently. 

Smith’s Pest Management: the Best Arborist in San Francisco

smith's arborist services

Finding a good arborist can be a challenging process. There are dozens of options out there, and it’s tough to know which ones will truly meet your needs. 

While many of the tree care companies in the San Francisco Bay Area offer similar services, they are not all created equal. Some don’t provide drought-proofing, for example, while others leave something to be desired in the service arena.

When you want a comprehensive tree specialist that can help keep your landscaping trees healthy, strong, and beautiful, turn to Smith’s Pest Management. 

Our team of tree disease specialists will evaluate the current health of your trees and create a customized plan to make them as strong and robust as possible. We tailor our services to each customer’s unique needs, and pride ourselves on excellent care and communication every step of the way.

Ready to learn more or request your free tree care quote? Contact us today. 

 


Author Bio: Zach Smith

zach smith, owner of smith's pest management

Landscape Pro Turned Gopher Pro: Owner, Zach Smith, graduate of Cal Poly’s Horticulture program worked nine years as a landscape professional- dealing with gophers, moles, and ground squirrels and was quickly recruited by other local gardeners. Fast forward to the past 10+ years, where Zach and his team trap and remove burrowing pests from residential, municipal and commercial properties throughout the San Francisco Bay area, from Marin to Monterey.



 

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