San Marcos tree service shares secrets of pruning

San Marcos tree service shares secrets of pruning

Brian Burlingame hired The Branch tree service of San Marcos for an extensive landscaping and tree-trimming job, and says owner Derek Long surprised him with his dedicated efforts to preserve a tree that Burlingame didn’t think could be saved.

“He took exceptional care with all the trees,” the Oceanside, Calif., member says. “One of my trees was stunting the growth of a fruit tree, and I asked him to take it out, but because of Derek’s expertise and willingness to execute the job in phases, we were able to save the tree and still accomplish my overall desires for 
a backyard landscape.”

Long, who’s been in business since the late 1980s, credits his success to his dedication to overall tree health.

2012 Angie’s List Super Service Award Winner

The Branch

Owner Derek Long of San Marcos, Calif., founded the company in the late 1980s and earned the Super Service Award in 2011 and 2012.

“Tree trimming is about more than just cutting off branches,” he says. “It’s about beautifying the tree, preserving its life, and creating something that’s pleasing to the eye.

A properly pruned tree adds to the landscape and increases the value of the home. A nicely landscaped house makes everything look better.

He educates customers about the value of careful pruning. “Improper pruning is a big problem,” he says. “Some guys will just go in and do what’s called topping, which wrecks the integrity of the tree. You’ll damage the tree for the long term if you just start cutting branches.”

Long holds both arborist and tree worker certification from the International Society of Arboriculture, and says both are crucial in doing excellent work.

“The arborist certification means you have a lot of knowledge of tree biology and identification, and the tree worker certification is about the practical knowledge of getting in there and trimming the trees,” he says. “It’s about the long-term effects of what you do. Much like when a person damages a leg, you need to work to rehabilitate the point where it’s damaged.”

Long maintains a small crew, including his son, who he foresees staying with the business for years to come. “It’s not a huge company, but we try to do good work at a good price,” he says.

Long says he got his start when a relative asked him to trim her trees, and he learned he had a knack for the job. “I started with a little homemade trailer nearly 30 years ago and here we are today.”

Poway member Daniel Dotson appreciates Long’s hands-on attitude. “I was pleased to see him right there climbing trees and doing the trimming,” he says. “This was a refreshing contrast to other tree services I’ve dealt with, where the owner took the order and was never seen again until it was time to pick up the check.”

Long considers his personal involvement as just part of the job. “I’m a perfectionist,” he says. “All this work has my name on it, and I want to keep my good name and reputation intact.”

The Super Service Award recognizes contractors and health care providers that have maintained a stellar service rating on Angie’s List throughout the past year. Be sure to always check the List before hiring, however, as ratings can and do change.

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