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Writing Good Pruning Specifications

by Edward F. Gilman
Professor, Environmental Horticulture Department
University of Florida, Gainesville

If you are asked to bid on a pruning job and there are no pruning specifications other than vague inferences, how can you possibly know what the client wants done to the trees?  The answer is, you can not know.  The client probably does not know what they want either.

This is why specifications are so vital to the future of our industry, for without them, we can not move our profession ahead.  Without good specifications, every arborist will be bidding on a different type and amount of pruning.  Just like a builder would not even dream about bidding on construction of a home without a set of plans, why should you bid on a pruning job without a set of plans (i.e. specifications)?

Unfortunately, most bids are submitted without proper specifications.  When asked to bid on pruning jobs without adequate specifications, point out the value of well-written specifications.  The biggest advantage of well-written specs, Is that all bidders will know exactly what is to be done so they all bid on the same amount and type of work.  Without well-written specs, every firm will be bidding on a different job!  This is the main reason bids come in with such a wide range of prices.  With some practice, you can offer the service of writing pruning specifications through your company and charge for it.

The following two sample pruning specifications are for two different condominium sites.  They are only examples to be used as a model.  Each job will require different specifications depending on the tree’s age, size, health, location, amount of structural problems, the budget and other factors.  Notice, as you read through these two examples, that specifications are nothing like the ANSI A300 standards.

Sample Pruning Specs for Medium Aged and Mature Trees

Sample Pruning Specs for Young Trees