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Difference Between Landscapers and Arborists

This blog post will make it clear if you want to know the difference between landscapers and arborists. Arborists are people who specialise in caring for trees and other plants that grow in outdoor settings like gardens. 

On the other hand, Landscapers take care of everything outdoors, including lawns and shrubs, as well as anything else that needs tending. They both have their own set of skillsets but work together often to create a cohesive landscape design. 

If you’re not sure what type of contractor best fits your project’s needs or if you’re just looking for more information on either one of these professions, then continue reading! We’ll explore each profession separately, so keep reading!

What does your garden look like? For some people, it’s just a nice place to spend time outside. Others may be interested in the trees that are planted there. If you fall into this category, you’ve probably had someone ask about the difference between landscapers and arborists.  

Beyond their title, what do these two professionals have in common? There are many similarities between them but also plenty of differences. This blog post will help clarify those differences so you can decide which one might be best for your needs!

Landscapers vs. Arborists – What’s the Difference

Distinguishing between landscapers and arborists may seem unnecessary at first. To the average homeowner, there is little difference between the two – both perform a variation of yard work, so it doesn’t really matter which one you hire, right? Wrong.

Landscaping and arboriculture are very unique professions, and homeowners need to be cognizant of this fact. Failing to understand the differences could lead to safety hazards, as landscapers are often ill-equipped handle the more dangerous aspects of tree work, according to Peter Gerstenberger, Senior Advisor to the President for Safety, Standards and Compliance at TCIA.

“Traditional landscaping tasks include landscape and hardscape installation, lawn care, lawn irrigation installation and maintenance, mulching, garden bed preparation and maintenance and sometimes shrub pruning,” Gerstenberger explains. “Arboriculture, on the other hand, involves caring for mature trees, tree removal, pruning, cabling, stump grinding, and more.”

Why is the distinction important? “A landscaper will not necessarily be equipped with the training and the tools needed to perform arboricultural operations safely or even correctly,” Gerstenberger asserts. This can result in the landscape contractor overextending himself, which can result in damage to their person and/or your property. You may even find yourself responsible for the damage as a homeowner, especially if your contractor doesn’t carry liability insurance!

On the other hand, professional arborists are accustomed to handling dangerous equipment such as chippers and chainsaws.  Reputable tree care companies also adhere to pruning standards, carry liability insurance and understand the importance of standardised safety practices on the jobsite.

So, how can homeowners determine whether they need to hire a landscaping company versus a tree care company? “Consider the scope of the work that needs to be done, and match it to the scope of services offered by the company you’re hiring,” Gerstenberger advises.

In other words, if your lawn needs an aesthetic overhaul by someone knowledgeable in horticulture, call a landscaping company. If your trees are looking desperate or dangerous, call a reputable tree care company in your area. 

The Difference Between A Landscaper and an Arborist Explained

If you have a project that needs doing in your yard or elsewhere on your property, you may be at a loss as to whose help to seek. If the project involves the care of a tree or other plant, you might not be sure if you should hire a landscaper or an arborist. After all, either one of these professionals could be responsible for taking care of the plants on your landscape.

There are, however, significant differences between the two jobs, and it’s important that you know what those differences are for safety reasons. First, a landscaper is responsible, broadly for the creation of landscapes. While this may seem obvious, we should narrow this down into exactly what responsibilities that entails.

To many people, arborists and landscapers seem almost the same, so a lot of homeowners might think they could hire either of them to have the yard work done. But do they really do the same performance in your yard? Unfortunately, the answer is ‘heck, no’.

Landscapers do lawn care, lawn irrigation installation and maintenance, garden bed installation and maintenance, mulching, etc. However, traditional arborists do tree trimming, tree removal, tree pruning, stump grinding, and anything involving mature tree care.

It is very important to distinguish between arboriculture and landscaping because it could lead to hazardous accidents to your property or to the workers. You said What? Hazardous accidents? That is correct. 

The tools that arborists and landscapers use are significantly different. For example, landscapers might not be trained to use tools properly for arboricultural jobs. On the other hand, professional arborists must be trained to use chain saws, chippers, and other unique equipment that landscapers generally do not encounter. Furthermore, certified and reputed tree companies have reliable insurance to cover accidents, should anything happen.

tree pruning

Landscapers

Among their other responsibilities, landscapers plant trees, bushes, and flowers and then maintain them afterwards. They will mow the lawn on a property, taking care to make sure the grass is healthy and safe from the threat of hot or cold climates. 

They will also test the pH and nutrients of the soil where your plants are growing to ensure optimum health for whatever flora you have decided to grow on your property.

Landscapers will also create mulch, which will be used on flowerbeds to keep them healthy and looking their best. Besides this, they are responsible for making sure whatever flowers are growing on your property are suited to the climate and time of year. 

If necessary, they will switch out the flowers as needed once the seasons change. If you have trees or shrubs, landscapers will prune those and regularly water them, especially before the winter, to prevent dehydration. 

They are trained to know which plants to prune and which ones not to and to provide adequate water and nutrition to suit the needs of each particular species.

In many cases, hiring a landscaper will yield excellent results when it comes to creating and maintaining a presentable yard or garden. However, there are some limitations in what they are trained for, and that is where arborists come in.

There is a bit of overlap in the jobs of a landscaper and that of an arborist; for example, both of them are expected to water and prune trees. However, when it comes to specialised work for trees, a landscaper may not have the proper training or equipment to carry out said work.

Arborists

In addition to basic tree care, an arborist is responsible for several more in-depth needs that a tree may have. If you have a mature or ailing tree, you should secure the services of an arborist as they will be uniquely qualified to assess the condition of any given tree. 

They will also be able to handle areas of tree care, such as dealing with any sort of diseases a tree may have or solving an insect infestation problem. If a tree is struggling to receive the necessary nutrients, an arborist will also be able to make recommendations for fertilisation.

Besides these duties, an arborist is also qualified to remove dead or dying trees from your property. However, removing trees is generally a last resort option since it is a difficult process, so you will only want to do so on the recommendation of a certified arborist. 

Since trees are big and potentially dangerous if proper care is not taken, it’s essential you secure the services of the right type of professional if you need a tree removed. This process often requires a variety of specialised equipment, including everything from chainsaws to log splitters. An arborist is almost certainly the best person for the job under these circumstances.

Arborists are also the best ones to contact if your tree is in need of emergency care. There are a number of emergencies that can beset a tree, and you’ll want to make sure that you are being helped by someone who knows what they are doing. 

Certain diseases can quickly spread from one tree to another and end up killing whole populations if action is not taken quickly. If a storm comes through or is likely to come through, an arborist can make recommendations as to what safety measures to take, such as removing limbs that are not strong enough to survive the storm.

If you are looking to plant new trees on your property, hiring an arborist to make recommendations as to the best species for your area and how to ensure the tree’s long-term health may also be the best option to take. 

Arborists will be certified specifically to work with trees and will be able to help you set up a tree health care plan so that if your tree does need any type of care in the future, you will be prepared to deal with it.

Working Together

Still, this is not to say that tree care and landscaping companies are fundamentally at odds with one another. On the contrary, landscaping and arboriculture are complementary professions and can often collaborate to capture new leads, share in extra profits, and coordinate marketing and sales efforts.

“Being sensitive to both [landscaping and arboriculture] – trying to understand each other’s worlds, and trying to get our industries to talk – makes a huge difference in the relationship,” suggests Scott Jamieson, former TCIA board member. “In the end, it will not only be better for the trees but also the clients.” 

Working as a team can result in a mutually beneficial business relationship that creates added value for clients, brings in additional revenue streams, and saves money on overhead costs.

As long as homeowners are educated about their needs, and understand the nuances of landscaping and arboriculture, then the requisite work can be performed safely and effectively. No matter which contractor you chose, remember – safety is always the most important factor in your decision!

Do Landscapers Trim Trees?

In short, yes, landscapers do trim small trees and bushes, but their main job is things like laying turf/ sod, fencing, retaining walls, paving and other works that enhance the hardscape of your yard.

You would need to contact a tree cutting service near you if you were looking to get a tree larger than 15ft high trimmed or removed. Anything smaller than 15ft. can be handled by a landscaper or garden maintenance company.

What Landscapers Do

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A landscaper can do a wide range of things such as:

  • Design a new garden or yard layout
  • Install lawns
  • Install fences
  • Retaining walls
  • Paving
  • Concreting
  • Irrigation
  • Mulching garden beds
  • Planting trees
  • Designing and installing landscape (natural features) or hardscape (man-made fixtures).
  • Installing and maintaining lawn irrigation and ensuring proper water drainage.
  • Covering land with mulch to enrich or insulate the soil.
  • Preparing, creating, and maintaining garden beds.
  • Pruning shrubs to promote health.

Since their main work is to manage the earth and water, they can trim bushes and small trees, plant flowers, restructure already established gardens, plant new gardens, install irrigation systems, and give pools or patios a new look.

Some landscapers will work on small projects such as home gardens. However, some are used in handling huge projects that require a lot of expertise and manpower.

What Arborists Do

Arborists work by taking care of trees by providing them with good care practices as well as nutrients to keep them healthy at all times. Just like human beings, trees need to survive by getting food, water, and health treatment.

An arborist can do a wide range of things such as

Generally, arborists will make sure that trees have the right treatment to ensure good co-existence with humans safely. For example, they trim trees that are growing into buildings or power lines, shape large trees or remove large trees in tight spaces if needed.

They also ensure the amenity value of trees are maintained through risk and hazard assessments. If the safe and useful life expectancy of a tree is coming to an end, they can write an official arborist report to be presented to the city for the removal of said tree.

When to Call a Tree Service

Call an arborist or tree service company for the safe removal of a mature tree. If you need one or more trees taken from your property, you’ll need a professional with the skills and equipment for tree removal.

Cutting down a tree is precise work. Arborists control where the tree falls, making sure that no one is hurt and no property is damaged.

Choose an arborist when a large tree needs pruning. Pruning removes dangerous and diseased branches. For example, if a storm breaks a large tree in your yard, call an arborist to remove the branches. Arborists can also diagnose a sick or dying tree.

Australian Arborists is licensed, insured and bonded. First, we’ll prune or cut down your tree. Then, we’ll remove the fallen tree and branches and grind the stump. When we finish, your land is ready for a garden, construction or for planting another tree.

Some professional tree services also trim shrubs and trees, but that type of work is often the specialty of a lawn and landscaping service.

When to Call a Landscaping Service

Landscaping services take care of your lawn, flower beds, irrigation system and small decorative trees. Landscapers mow and fertilise grass, apply mulch, weed your garden and shape small trees.  You can call a landscaper for a single job or regular maintenance.

A landscaping service can help you plan your yard, plant a sapling and perform light trimming and pruning of trees and shrubs. However, landscapers are usually not equipped to remove large trees. Falling a tree is dangerous and is out of the scope of most landscape companies.

When to Trim Trees Yourself

Many people prefer to hire professionals for tree and landscape care. However, if you like working in your yard, you can learn to trim and shape small trees. Light tree trimming and pruning require only bypass pruners or a small saw. There are many books and websites where you can learn more about tree care.

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