BBB: BBB tips on spring yard cleanup

Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota


Warm weather has finally arrived in full-force, and many property owners are looking to get the upper hand on overgrowth, fallen leaves and damaged tree limbs. There are many reliable companies that offer tree trimming and brush collection services, but there are also a few that are looking to be paid for work they might start but have no plans to finish. When it comes to finding dependable tree care companies, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota urges consumers to “measure three times and cut once.

“If someone knocked on your door and asked if they could work on your furnace, you would be extremely leery and do your research before even considering such an out of the blue offer,” said Susan Adams Loyd, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “We feel the same caution should be taken when it comes to the exterior of your home.”

When you’re looking for a reliable tree trimmer or yard service, keep these tips in mind:

• Be wary of door-to-door solicitations. Each year, countless homeowners have tree trimming companies knock on their door and offer their services at a supposed discount. In too many cases, the work performed is shoddy or only partially completed. At that point, the company requests payment, saying they will come back to finish the work the next morning — and then never return.

• Hire a professional. Research companies for free at Ask for references, as well — and follow up on them. You should also ask if the person knocking on your door needs — and has obtained — a solicitor’s permit from the city where you live. If in doubt, confirm that with city officials.

• Ask if they’re listed. In Minnesota, all companies and individuals that provide tree care or tree trimming services and/or who remove trees, limbs, branches, brush or shrubs for hire should be listed with Minnesota’s Tree Care Registry. This includes all public, private, and governmental entities. To verify this, visit It’s also a good idea to ensure tree trimmers and brush removal services have any necessary city permits.

• Request an onsite inspection. The inspection should include the entire tree, not just parts that appear to be damaged, in poor condition or in danger of falling. Risk assessment can be done at the same time and this helps consumers determine which trees are categorized as higher-risk.

• Get everything in writing. A contract should clearly state the services you will receive, as well as when the job is expected to be completed, payment terms and conditions, contact information for the company — phone number and address — as well as any refund or cancellation policies.

• Verify insurance coverage. Confirm that the company has insurance that covers worker’s compensation, property damage and personal liability.


— The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.

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