Preservation is the goal for local arborist with German roots

Started tree business in Sussex Co. after high-level international training
September 14, 2023

“It’s gonna be a hot one,” Spencer Unger said as he strapped on safety lines, attached a chainsaw and a tightened his helmet.

He was getting ready to climb a 90-foot-tall oak tree in Rehoboth Beach to chop off dead branches.

It would not be going out on a limb to say Unger is not your average tree guy in Sussex County. He started Coastland Tree Works in 2022 after some tough tree training in Germany.

“There are several stages of licensing through accredited vocational schools. There are three main levels which involve tree felling. Level A requires 300 documented hours with only a handsaw in order to move to level B, which introduces chainsaws,” Unger said.

“Arboriculture is a serious thing in Germany,” he said. “I feel they’re way ahead of America as far as their standards. Every city has a tree ordinance, and it’s super strict. Everybody cares about their trees.”

He wants to change the culture here to standardize training to improve safety and knowledge for employees.

Unger is an “arborist climber” certified by the International Society of Arboriculture.

“I climb trees; my subcontractors climb the trees. We don’t use a lift. We find it has a lower impact on people’s yards and we can also give better prices to our customers. Safety is the No. 1 priority. No. 2 is tree preservation and conversation,” Unger said.

Unger grew up in Bethesda, Md., and lived in San Francisco, Calif., before moving to Germany to do event planning. 

But he wanted to get back to nature, so he made a career change.

“Trees and nature have always been a part of my life,” he said.

Unger moved back to this country with his husband three years ago to be closer to his family in Rehoboth Beach.

He said his international experience and 10 years in trees is what sets him apart from his competitors.

“Other tree company owners are businessmen or have worked in another field and do not have the training or background,” he said. “My company focuses on preservation, trimming and pruning. Our goal is to create a way for humans and trees to live together without having to remove them.”

Unger said he has worked on properties as small as a quarter acre and as large as 10 acres.

“People invest at lot of money in their trees, so it’s important for them to be in top health and looking good as well,” he said.

For more information on Unger’s company, go to


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