Becoming an arborist requires both practical experience working with trees, as well as formal education. An arborist can receive on the job training from tree care companies, nurseries, municipalities, and landscaping companies. While it is not always a requirement, some employers will request that their employees receive ISA (International Society of Aboriculture) certification.
Before applying to an arboriculture program, students may need to have work experience and/or an associate or bachelor’s degree in a subject related to arboriculture, such as horticulture or forestry. Arboriculture programs will list the prerequisites required before students can be accepted.
Programs in arboriculture cover topics such as tree cultivation, care, and management. They also cover disease identification and prevention, invasive species removal, pruning, planting, transplantation, and structural support. Students in this program also learn how to safely use harnesses, ropes, and various climbing equipment.
What Does an Arborist Do?
An arborist maintains trees and shrubs through trimming and pruning, to ensure they don’t interfere with public works like power lines, roads, or sidewalks. An arborist’s services may also be used to improve the appearance, health, or value of trees. Arborists may work under job titles like tree trimmer, tree climber, ground worker, or line clearance foreman.
Arborists cut away dead or renegade branches from trees and bushes that pose a risk to utility lines, roads, and sidewalks. Some also focus on improving the appearance and health of trees and plants, and some specialize in dealing with tree diseases. Others focus on beautification of decorative species, shaping ornamental trees and shrubs.
Arborists use and maintain a variety of equipment on a daily basis, including trucks, tractors, chippers, power saws, sprayers, and other tools. They hoist the equipment up to where it’s needed, then cut away low-hanging, dead, or obstructive tree limbs. They then dispose of the cuttings by lowering them down with ropes or block and tackle, feeding them into chippers and hauling them away. They often need to climb trees with ladders or other equipment to reach work areas. Arborists also fertilize and spray trees.
Arborists help keep things running smoothly in our cities and towns. Without them, our roads, sidewalks, and power lines would become dangerous. They also help improve tree health. Planting and caring for trees can help absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, from the atmosphere. Trees stabilize slopes, prevent erosion, and help absorb stormwater runoff. They can even help counteract the “heat island effect” of urban areas, and help keep things a bit cooler in the summer.
Trees are everywhere and provide people with many benefits. They offer shade, produce oxygen, and provide food. They keep streets and cities cool and prevent soil erosion. They are also very pleasing to look at – people love having trees around them.
And just like a person, trees need proper care and nutrients to stay healthy. An arborist provides this kind of care. While trees provide a lot of benefits to people, if left untouched they could cause damage. They may overgrow onto power lines or people’s homes. They could also cause damage in severe weather which can lead to power outages and harmful collapses.
An arborist pruning tree branches to promote healthy growth.
Here are some of the main ways that an arborist can maintain and care for trees:
Tree Pruning – Arborists can determine what type of pruning is needed for individual trees. Pruning promotes healthy growth, rids the tree of any dead wood, and naturally protects the tree from insects.
Tree Removal – As a last resort, an arborist may recommend that a tree is removed, though it is always carefully considered. An arborist has the proper skills and equipment to remove a tree safely and efficiently.
Tree Planting – Planting a tree in the right place is important for the tree’s long term health. An arborist can determine the appropriate location for a tree and assist with planting.
Emergency Tree Care – Storms and heavy winds can cause major damage to trees or individual limbs. If a tree is felled, or its branches cause damage to houses or power lines, an arborist is called to make sure the situation is handled properly.
An arborist provides other services such as insect control, fertilization, cabling, aeration, and lightning protection. They can also identify any diseases or parasites, ensure trees have sufficient support, and remove any damaging plants. An arborist can give consultations that will help determine when these services are necessary.
Different Types Of Work For Arborists
There are a variety of jobs that can be found for arborists. Municipalities will hire arborists to clean up streets, highways, parks, as well as planting and maintaining trees around the area. Power companies will also hire arborists to clear debris or trees that may affect the livelihood of others. Arborists can also work for colleges and universities, housing plants, country clubs, and other major companies that have areas of land that need maintained, or cleaned of dead trees.
Arborist firms and other large companies are put together to make this process easier and find the right arborists for the right projects.
Commercial arborists, plant, prune, cable, fertilize, inspect, protect during construction, reduce impacts of pest damage, and remove trees. Potential employers include: commercial tree service companies
Municipal, or “urban” foresters manage trees and green spaces owned by cities. This aspect of arboriculture deals mainly with trees along streets and boulevards, city parks and around public buildings. Urban foresters provide services similar to those provided by commercial arborists but also develop and enforce tree ordinances. Potential employers include: government agencies
Utility arboriculture is more than just electrical line clearance to prevent power outages. It also involves planning tree maintenance, awarding contracts, and inspecting the work performed. Utility arborists work with property owners to teach them about the need for proper tree maintenance near utility lines. They also advise customers on tree species that are suitable for planting near power lines. Potential employers include: public utility companies
Consulting arborists provide clients with information on diagnosing plant health, appraising plants for value, and other issues. As a consulting arborist, you may be contracted by homeowners, insurance companies, municipalities, lawyers, planners, developers, landscape architects, or others. Potential employers include:
There are opportunities in many aspects of arboricultural research. Universities, arboreta, and larger companies are the main employers of tree care researchers.
Potential employers include:
- Commercial tree service companies
- Public utility companies
- Government agencies
- Landscape maintenance firms, nurseries or garden centers
- Arboriculture equipment or chemical manufacturers
- Universities, community colleges or Extension Services
- Arboreta and botanical gardens
- Landscape architecture firms
- Private estates or complexes
- And more!
Reasons Why Should You Hire an Arborist
We start learning about the importance of trees before we are in grade school. Trees are so important that many people consider them the single most important thing on this planet next to bees. Trees play a tremendously important role in the environment, so much so that without them, most life forms, including humans, wouldn’t be able to survive on Earth.
Trees have a tremendous value when it comes to the overall ambiance of your home. Most people who own a house with a yard or some property are going to have at least a few trees, if not many.
Trees not only make your whole property feel more whole and complete, but they also provide another level of privacy and security. They’re great when you’re living in a close-quarters neighborhood, giving you something in between your neighbors nearby windows and your own.
That’s where the arborist comes in. What is an arborist, and why would we invest time in learning about them and or even bother to invest in one? We are sure that these questions are ones that many people would ask. It isn’t a common title that you hear in everyday conversation. We believe that it is important that you have a decent idea of what an arborist is and what they do before we can attempt to persuade you to hire one.
Here are 8 reasons why you should hire an arborist.
1. Arborists Are Trained in Proper Tree Care
The first—as well as one of the most popular—reason why we think you should hire an arborist is that they are trained in proper tree care.
There are so many reasons why having healthy trees is important for someone that has trees. How frustrating is it to invest time and energy into getting all of your trees planted just to have them die within the first year of having them planted?
This is a pretty common scenario for new homeowners that are having their first go at having a yard with trees and shrubs. Maybe they don’t use the right fertilizer that is necessary for the particular kind of tree. Or maybe they over trim their trees. Trees can live a lot longer than humans can, so how they are taken care of will be the factor that determines a tree’s quality of life. They can’t always take care of themselves unfortunately. Proper tree care is an investment that can have substantial returns.
2. Arborists Can Work on Trees Safely
The second reason you should hire an arborist is that arborists can work on trees safely. Unless you really know what you’re doing, the typical household isn’t going to have the proper tools and equipment required for being able to handle tree care in the safest way.
Oftentimes, an arborist needs to get up in a tree in order to take care of the annoying branch that is scratching your top story bedroom window. When in arborist has to get up in your trees, they have the proper equipment necessary to ensure that the job is handled in the safest way possible.
Unless you know an arborist, then finding the proper harnessing equipment necessary to get up in your trees is not going to be easy to find. And even if you could find the right equipment, learning how to use it properly is a job that we suggest you leave to the professionals.
When performing a tree transplant of a tree that is a couple of stories high, an arborist can ensure that there won’t be any problems with safely transplanting and/or transporting the tree to its new destination (whether that’s into your yard or to a new destination).
Please don’t be the person who has to learn the hard way. There are plenty of cases where inexperienced people try to transport trees and end up losing control of the tree, only to have it fall into their house.
The investment needed to hire an arborist for these things is a lot cheaper than the potential cost from unnecessary accidents.
3. Arborists’ Expertise Can Protect Your Investment and Property Value
The third reason you should hire an arborist is that hiring an arborist can help protect your investment and property value.
An arborist can help protect your property value by making sure that all of the money that you spent on having the landscaping professionally done doesn’t go down the drain.
How could this happen? It is pretty simple and way too common, unfortunately. People spend all of this money on trees and shrubs and have no idea about when to water, when to prune, when to fertilize or plant seed, and everything runs the risk of dying.
Having to replace dead shrubs and trees is another cost that is way more than what hiring a professional would end up costing. You’re saving money by preventing unnecessary loss.
Plus, having a beautifully kept up property can not only prevent you from losing your property value, it can even increase your property value. Trees are often small, and when they are fully grown and in great health, your home can’t help but shine.
4. Arborists’ Can Help with Storm Damage
The fourth reason why you should hire an arborist is they can help with storm damage. They can also prevent any possible threat to your trees that only a professional is going to have the right training and knowledge to prevent.
Arborists are trained at being able to handle problems that are extremely overwhelming for the untrained person. Taking care of risks that could occur due to strong winds or hail is one way arborists help with storm damage.
Hazards are not usually obvious to an untrained eye and correcting the hazard can pose a lot of dangerous risks. It is impossible to be able to protect the entire tree (and your property) from storm damage, but a certified arborist can inspect for problems that could predispose your trees and property to failure.
They can inspect for any decay that might be present in your trees’ limbs and branches. Having proper structural support for a tree that has minor decay can prevent a huge potential disaster. Different cables and braces can help support a tree that is taking on high speed winds. An arborist can also inspect for dead limbs that could break and put your home at risk during a storm.
5. Arborists Have the Right Tools for The Job
The fifth reason why you should hire an arborist is that they have the right tools for the job. As mentioned already, the tree business is one that poses a high risk compared to most jobs out there.
It requires specialized knowledge about the biology and physics of trees.
An arborist will know how to:
- Safely climb a tree
- Which type of climbing equipment is necessary
- Which type of rigging to use
- Which type of saw is needed to safely cut a branch
- How to safely cut the branch to ensure that it lands in a safe location
- How to operate a crane for efficient tree transplanting
- There are several different types of equipment that are needed by an arborist.
Rigging equipment is needed for climbing large trees, making sure huge limbs that have been cut make it to the ground safely, and transporting the right tools up and down a tree.
Rigging tools include pulleys, slings, carabiners, cable hoists, and a lot of rope.
Cutting equipment is an obvious necessity for working arborists. Handsaws, prunes, pole saws, axes, wedges, and wood chippers are common examples for cutting equipment.
Trimming equipment is a common needed group of tools and is a little different than cutting equipment.
If a tree crown reduction is needed, an arborist will resort in trimming equipment rather than cutting equipment.
The particular tools needed usually overlap with cutting equipment, while the way the tool is used is a lot different.
Climbing gear is needed to ensure the safety of getting up and down a tree.
6. Arborists Handle Tree Removal
The sixth reason why we suggest hiring an arborist is that they handle tree removal. Tree removals are performed in order to eliminate dead and or dying trees, as well as to remove trees that have become hazardous to your property.
Tree removals can also be performed when other plants are being blocked off by the tree from receiving needed sunlight.
Tree removal can be the most hazardous task for an arborist. Tree removals require a level of expertise that only a professional can perform.
Plenty of people have created a lot of preventable damage by trying to uproot a tree without having any proper training.
7. Arborists Can Plant Shrubs and Trees
The seventh reason why we think you should hire an arborist is to handle the planting of your trees and shrubs.
You have just moved into your new home and have the overwhelming task of providing your lawn with abundant trees and shrub life. If you have never planted a tree before, then get ready to do a lot of digging.
Not only is the work of digging holes for trees strenuous, but different trees also require different hole sizes, not to mention the fact that different breeds of shrubs require different hole sizes as well.
Planting your trees incorrectly can put you at risk of having your trees dying and then having to face the cost of removing the dead tree and replacing it with a new one.
For the normal working person, taking on this role is far too time consuming and better to be left to a professional who has the efficient tools for getting your tree planting done right the first time.
Arborists will also make sure that your trees are planted in a way that will not pose a future threat to the safety of your home and property.
8. Arborists Handle Tree Threats
The eighth and final reason why we think you should hire an arborist is that they can handle all of the threats that pose a risk to your trees. All living organic life has the same list of threats that a person would have.
The world is filled with an assortment of pests and disease-causing bacteria that can kill every limb on a tree. Termites can get in your trees without you even being aware, and before you know it, it’s too late, and the tree is past the point of saving.
We discussed weather threats before—arborists can make sure that any avoidable risk a tree might endure could be prevented. Rodents might be eating all of your apples that are needed for your fruit stand, and an arborist can even make sure that these kinds of threats are eliminated.
Many people who renovate their homes don’t properly prepare for the potential risk construction might pose to the safety of your trees. An arborist can ensure that your tree stays in the same physical condition before and after the construction process.