Diagnostic Evaluation & Professional Assessment

Arbor Care Resources offers a complete array of services to provide you with accurate information on the condition, health, value, or safety of your existing trees, and recommendations for planting, pruning, and maintenance that are based on the latest research and technical information available.

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Plant Health Evaluations

Arbor Care Resources can perform a Plant Health Evaluation for a single tree or all of the trees and shrubs on your property that assess the condition, vitality, growth pattern and history, environmental and cultural stresses, and insect and disease problems. We will develop a set of recommendations for the immediate and long-term maintenance of these plants.

Maintaining the health of a tree is similar to maintaining the health of a person. As humans, we maintain proper health through proper nutrition, avoiding extreme climactic stresses, protection from physical injury, treatment for infections and diseases, and This similar need for the maintenance of proper health also exists for trees. Sufficient water, soil nutrients, sunlight, and air are critical for proper tree vitality. Extreme weather conditions such as drought, flooding, or extreme variations in the seasonal weather (of either too hot or too cold) can create a stress on the tree’s metabolic system and cause the tree to decline or die. Just as humans become more susceptible to diseases when we are worn down, so trees become more susceptible to insect or disease infestation or decline when severely stressed from other causes. It is more effective to maintain proper tree vitality and to correct environmental or cultural problems before they become serious than to only attempt to maintain a tree when it is already in decline. Just as with us, preventative care is more effective than searching for cures.

Diagnostic analysis is necessary when a visual analysis will not reveal the cause of a problem. Many funguses can only be identified when they are in a fruiting spore stage or through a laboratory analysis. Pheromone traps are used to catch adult insects to determine their presence or monitor their population. Root diseases may require excavation to gather a sample to examine, and climbing the tree may be required to gather samples of bark or foliage in the canopy. Insect, disease, and nematode samples are usually sent to the diagnostic laboratory at Rutgers University and soil samples are sent to soil laboratories in New Jersey or Virginia.

Professional assessments are also necessary when a complete analysis of a situation or problem by a certified arborist (NJ CTE) is necessary or when complete documentation of a situation or problem is required. Tree hazard evaluations, tree value assessments, cost of cure assessments, and forensic assessments are considered professional assessments.

Insect or Disease Assessment

Arbor Care Resources specializes in insect and disease identification, plant tolerance and impact assessment, and insect and disease control. We track the level of development of most of the problem pests in Southern New Jersey and monitor the temperature, moisture and growing degree days on a weekly basis. We stay abreast of the latest developments in control measures that are suitable for our area.

Several factors affect the level of insect and disease infestation from year to year. These factors are interrelated and will always vary. While some pests are always a problem, most insects and diseases fluctuate in severity from year to year or are dependent upon specific weather conditions. The impact of all pathogens is directly related to the vitality of the tree and its ability to resist infection or recover from the damage caused.

Insect and disease control is accomplished in our Integrated Pest Management program by improving the vitality of the plants, increasing the environmental conditions for the development of beneficial insects, and reducing the environmental conditions that are favorable for the development of pest insects and diseases.

Choosing the right plant for the right location, proper irrigation and drainage, mulching, pruning, and removal of diseased or severely infested plants are all part of a good pest management program. Pesticide applications are made to keep insects and diseases below an acceptable threshold.

Pesticides of the lowest toxicity and the highest effectiveness are used during the most sensitive stage of the life cycle. All applications are made according to the latest research and recommendations in the industry. All applications will be made by trained and licensed operators and in accordance with all regulations of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Arial Evaluations

Arbor Care Resources can perform an Arial Evaluation of a tree.  An Aerial Evaluation is necessary when a structural defect or disease in the crown of the tree cannot be properly assessed from the ground. Our arborist that perform most of the aerial evaluations has been in the tree care industry for over 30 years and has climbed over 10,000 trees.


Root Excavation and Evaluation

A silent killer and the cause of many tree problems is soil compaction. Construction, re-landscaping, or even heavy foot traffic can collapse air passages and compact soils, thereby reducing their porosity. A simple test for soil compaction is to try to push a pencil into the soil. If you can’t push a pencil through the soil easily, roots can’t grow in it!). Without sufficient oxygen and water the entire soil system slows down and trees will begin to decline. These trees may become nutrient deficient, not for lack of elements in the soil but because important micro-organisms have been disturbed which would normally facilitate the absorption of these elements into the tree. Likewise, the addition of fertilizers may be of little or no benefit to the soil or the tree.

One of the methods we at Aborcare Resources use for soil modification is Radial Trench Mulching. This is a process of using a supersonic air excavator to dig trenches throughout the root zone of the tree without cutting the roots. These trenches are then filled with soil, organic material, and biological stimulants. The soil is modified to allow for optimum root development of a particular species of tree and the existing growing conditions. This method of treatment has been proven to be one of the most effective methods of soil modification for compacted soils over tree roots.

Soil Analysis

Soil evaluation and analysis are usually necessary to determine the specific macronutrient, micronutrient, and organic qualities of the soil compared to the particular requirements of the variety of plants growing in it.  Arbor Care Resources can perform a full soil evaluation and analysis as part of the investigation process we use to diagnose and treat your tree.


Hazardous Tree Assessments

Arbor Care Resources performs both Hazardous Tree Assessments on specific trees and training seminars for Hazardous Tree Assessment for tree industry organizations or shade tree commissions.

It is very obvious after a tree falls and causes damage that it was hazardous before it fell. The purpose of determining the hazard potential of a tree is usually to determine the hazard before it occurs. Determining the Hazard Rating or recognizing a potential hazard can be done using several scientific methods, different rules of thumb, or just experience and common sense. The recognition of the hazard is relative to who is making the observation.

A measurement of how observable a pre-existing defect is in a tree will always be relative to who is making the observation. While it is usually not possible to guarantee that every defect in a tree has been identified, an experienced arborist with proper training can recognize most of the potentially hazardous conditions during a hazardous tree evaluation.

The process most often used for determining the hazard potential is from the International Society of Arboriculture Photographic Guide to the Evaluation of Hazard Trees in Urban Areas, 2nd edition. This guide is generally considered the standard in the tree care industry for tree hazard determination.

While the process for determining the hazard rating is based on many quantitative characteristics that relate to the structural stability of the tree, it is not possible to guarantee the safety or hazard of any tree, calculate unseen characteristics, or predict environmental factors that may impact the hazard of the tree. A hazard rating does not define “danger” or determine when a tree becomes “dangerous”. The level of acceptable or unacceptable risk associated with the potential for tree hazards is better determined by those directly affected by them. Some level of risk will always be present when people live among trees. The decision of how much risk is tolerable remains with the owner or manager.

The rating method that we normally use to evaluate the hazard potential is a 12 point rating divided into three categories: size, failure potential, and target. A higher score indicates a higher hazard potential. Determining the rating for the size of the tree and the rating for the target area can be determined accurately from measurements and observation of the target area. However, many factors must be considered when determining the failure potential rating.

The Photographic Guide to the Evaluation of Hazard Trees in Urban Areas, 2nd edition is designed to assist managers or homeowners in evaluating trees for their potential to be hazardous. Hazard ratings cannot strictly define a numerical line for action, between either removal and retention or treatment and no treatment. This must be an administrative decision, one made by the homeowner or manager. In municipal situations, where an agency might manage a very large number of trees, there may be practical limits to the amount of work that can be undertaken, and only the most severe and significant hazards may be addressed. Some level of risk will always be present when people live among trees. The decision of how much risk is tolerable remains with the owner and manager.

Tree Value Assessments

Arbor Care Resources performs Tree Value Assessments and Cost of Cure Assessments for the purpose of determining the value of trees lost due to injury, construction, unapproved removal, or natural disaster. In order to prevent a conflict of interest, we cannot perform an assessment against a tree service, municipality, individual, or agency that we have previously performed any services for.

Determining The Appraised Value For Trees Larger Than 4 Inches In Diameter

A method of appraisal that is commonly used is the Trunk Formula Method. This method was developed by the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers. The method was published by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), and approved by the New Jersey ISA Chapter with minor revisions. The Species Rating, Basic Price per square inch of trunk area, and Replacement Cost for a 4-inch replacement tree have all been determined by the Shade Tree Evaluation Committee of New Jersey Chapter of the ISA. These ratings can be adjusted by the appraiser according to the local environmental conditions and as dictated by specific factors in each situation.


While most of the calculations are based on objective measurements and specific formulas, some of the information used is subjective or requires adjustment to be applied to the specific application.

The Trunk Formula Method as adopted by the New Jersey Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture:

NJ ISA Approved Formula

Basic Value = Replacement Cost + ( Basic Price x [ TAa – TAb ] x species % )

The Appraisal Factors as adopted by the New Jersey Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture:

NJ ISA Appraisal Factor

Replacement Cost = $ 900.00

This is the cost to buy and install the largest normally available transplantable tree in NJ. That size was set at a 4 inch maximum for appraisal purposes.

NJ ISA Appraisal Factor

Basic Price = $ 27.00 per square inch of trunk area ( TAa )

TAa Trunk area of the tree being valued, measured at a standardized height. ( 4’’or 12’’or 4.5’ )

TAb Trunk area of the Replacement cost tree (set at 4’’ diameter which equals aprox. 13 square inches)


The method of appraisal that is commonly used has been based on the method developed by the Council of Tree & Landscape Appraisers as an aid in determining Cost of Cure of landscape values. The Cost of Cure determines the cost of the replacement and/or repairing of the property to its pre casualty condition. The cost is determined by the combined costs of the Debris Removal and Hardscape Restoration Cost, Plant Replacement Cost, and the Plant Restoration and Establishment Cost. All Cost of Cure recommendations to recreate previous use, or unintended passive recreational use shall be of good judgment, practical, reasonable, and shall not exceed the value before the casualty.

While this form provides a detailed format for determining value, the integration of facts needed to determine value requires a high degree of knowledge and experience. This form is intended for use by or in consultation with adequately trained personnel. CTLA and its Sponsoring Organization accept no liability for values determined through the use of this form. Information entered on this form may be admissible as evidence. (Based on Guide to Plant Appraisal, 8th Edition) The Cost of Repair is described as the cost of repairing a damaged plant in a timely manner that may help to return the plant to near its former condition. A careful prognosis of the plant’s ability to respond to recommended treatment(s) in a reasonable time is necessary. (Recommended treatments should be based on acceptable industry standards, practices, and research findings). Treatments could include – but are not limited to – wound treatment, cabling, bracing, pruning, amending soil, stump sprout management, irrigation, insect and disease management, improving compacted soil, and follow-up care.

All Cost of Cure recommendations to recreate previous use, or unintended passive recreational use shall be of good judgment, practical, reasonable, and shall not exceed the value before the casualty.


Tree Preservation Assessments

Many homes are constructed in the midst of wooded areas to take advantage of the aesthetic and environmental value of the native forest. The mature trees add a different dimension to the new house and create a landscape that appears natural and robust. Unfortunately, many of these mature trees are severely damaged during the construction of the house. Homeowners may be heartbroken when they learn that their once beautiful trees are dying and will need to be removed. The ideal solution is to prevent the damage from construction before it occurs. A Tree Preservation Plan can be incorporated into both the planning and construction phases of development to avoid damaging key mature trees on the property. A fundamental aspect of this plan is a preliminary assessment of the trees being considered to determine their viability for preservation. Utility plans, landscape plans, grade changes, site improvements, and changes in the water table all need to be considered when developing a preservation plan for the mature trees. An effective plan can only be developed by someone with knowledge of arboriculture and experience in both tree preservation and construction. The common method of trying to preserve mature trees on a site by just not hitting the trunk of the tree with the backhoe is one of the reasons that so many mature trees die on new construction sites.

Trees are injured during a construction process when the trunk of the tree is wounded by construction equipment, the water table is lowered by changes in topography, or the root system is damaged. The most common cause of tree decline and failure is damage to the root system. This occurs when the soil containing the root system of the tree is graded off, buried, dug up to bury utility lines, or compacted by construction equipment driving over it. Symptoms of construction damage may include smaller and fewer leaves, dieback in the crown of the tree, and premature leaf drop. Because most trees have a high level of stored energy reserves, a tree with a fatally injured root system may decline slowly over several years and die long after the contractor has left the property.

The process of reducing the impact of construction damage and improving the vitality of a mature tree can be more expensive than removing the tree and planting a new one. A mature tree may still die from damage to the root system regardless of the remedial treatment provided. The treatment process requires a complete assessment of both the tree and the surrounding root zone, consultation, and a decision on how important the tree is within the landscape to determine the scope of the remedial treatment.

Arbor Care Resources has a complete remedial treatment program for trees damaged from construction. Remedial treatments for trees damaged by construction can include pruning, soil modification, and radial trench mulching, prescription fertilization, and treatment with tree growth regulators. Pruning may be necessary to reduce the hazard potential of the tee or correct a structural defect. Soil modification or radial trenching may be needed to reduce the compaction of the soil so air and water can percolate through. Treatment with tree growth regulators can alter the development of the tree to reduce canopy development and increase root growth. Proper watering, mulching, and fertilization are also very important.

Expert Witness Services

This section is currently being updated. Please contact us for more information




Professional assessments are necessary when a complete analysis of a situation or problem by a certified arborist (NJ CTE) is necessary or when complete documentation of a situation or problem is required. Plant health evaluations, hazard evaluations, tree value assessments, cost of cure assessments, and legal briefs are considered professional assessments.

Allow the professionals at Abor Care Resources to provide the accurate and certified consultation you need.

Tree Planting Recommendations

Think of a tree as a lifetime investment. How well your tree and investment grow will depend on the type and quality of the tree that you select, the location that you choose for planting it, the proper method of planting, and the follow-up care that the tree receives after planting. Some of the many factors to consider when choosing the type of tree for a location are:

  • The desired size of the mature tree in that location
  • The amount of sunlight
  • Water drainage
  • Soil conditions
  • Foliage
  • Shade or screening requirements

Remember, young trees are like young puppies; you have to plan for what they grow into. When purchasing a tree, make sure that the tree is free of defects, insects, and disease. Also, make sure that the root system is undamaged and that the tree trunk has not broken loose from the top of the root ball. The ideal time to plant most trees and shrubs is during the dormant season from the early fall after leaf-drop until the early spring before bud-break. Different species have different levels of transplant hardiness so the actual planting period may vary.

Here is a simplified planting method: Dig a shallow, broad planting hole. Make the hole wide, as much as three times the diameter of the root ball, but only as deep as the root ball. Identify the trunk flare. The trunk flare is where the roots spread at the base of the tree. This point should be partially visible after the tree has been planted (see diagram). Fill the hole, gently but firmly. Stake the tree, if necessary. Mulch the base of the tree but do not cover the trunk flair with mulch. Lack of water is the primary cause of transplant failure. Water trees at least once a week and more frequently during hot weather.


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Pruning and Maintenance Oversight

Arbor Care Resources specializes in tree health care and provides management plans that are designed to fit the specific needs of our clients. Our services include site evaluation and assessment, tree planting, pruning and maintenance planning and oversight, community forestry, plant health care, and forensic assessments. We have developed Community Forestry Management Plans for several cities and communities in New Jersey that have been approved by the New Jersey Department of Forestry for funding. We also have Plant Health Care Program contracts and arboricultural consultation contracts with communities, commercial complexes, and homeowners that include planning and oversight, assessment and diagnosis, and integrated pest management.

Our company works in cooperation with most tree service companies and landscape contractors. We do not perform any tree planting, pruning, or removal services. We can include a separate price quote for any services, such as fertilization, insect and disease control, or soil modification that we provide. These services are separate from the management plan and competitive prices are available. We work in cooperation with other tree care or landscape services or your maintenance crews.

The Arbor Care Resources Corporate Mission

Our corporate mission is to provide services in the management of trees in the community forest that is based on the best understanding of arboriculture available. We are committed to the science of arboriculture. Through the utilization of all resources available in the tree care industry, we stay abreast of the latest developments in technology, research, and regulation. As our name implies, Arbor Care Resources provides communities with the best resources available to care for trees.