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Tree Surgeon V Arborist – What’s the difference?

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When it comes to tree care and maintenance, you may come across the terms “tree surgeon” and “arborist.” While these terms are often used interchangeably, there are some differences between the two professions. Understanding these distinctions can help you choose the right expert for your specific tree care needs. In this article, we will explore the roles and responsibilities of tree surgeons and arborists, shedding light on their unique skill sets and areas of expertise.

Tree Surgeons:

Tree surgeons, also known as tree care specialists or tree maintenance professionals, are primarily focused on the physical work involved in tree care. They are highly skilled in tree pruning, tree removal, and tree surgery techniques. Tree surgeons are trained to handle various tools and equipment required for tree maintenance, such as chainsaws, wood chippers, and climbing gear.

The primary responsibilities of tree surgeons include:

Tree Pruning and Shaping:

Tree surgeons are proficient in pruning techniques to promote healthy growth, improve tree structure, and enhance the overall aesthetics. They understand the proper methods of pruning for different tree species and can skillfully remove dead, diseased, or damaged branches.

Tree Removal:

Tree surgeons are trained to safely and efficiently remove trees when necessary. They have the expertise to assess the condition of a tree and determine if removal is the best course of action. Tree surgeons use specialised equipment and follow industry best practices to ensure safe tree removal while minimising any potential damage to surrounding structures or landscapes.

Tree Surgery:

In cases where a tree requires surgical interventions, such as treating diseases or addressing structural issues, tree surgeons have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform these procedures. They can carry out tasks like crown reduction, crown lifting, and crown thinning, which involve carefully removing specific branches to improve the tree’s health and structural integrity.

Tree Maintenance and Care:

Tree surgeons are well-versed in routine tree care practices, including fertilisation, mulching, and soil management. They can assess the overall health of trees, identify signs of diseases or pests, and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Tree Safety and Risk Assessment:

Tree surgeons are trained to evaluate the safety and stability of trees. They can identify potential hazards, such as weak branches or tree defects, and implement measures to mitigate the risks. This expertise is especially crucial in urban areas, where trees can pose threats to people and property if not properly maintained.


Arborists, often referred to as tree doctors or tree consultants, have a broader scope of expertise that encompasses both the scientific and technical aspects of tree care. They are highly knowledgeable about tree biology, identification, and management practices. Arborists focus on the overall health and well-being of trees and provide professional advice and consultation on tree-related matters.

The primary responsibilities of arborists include:

Tree Health Assessment and Diagnosis:

Arborists are trained to evaluate the health of trees and diagnose diseases, pests, or environmental issues affecting their vitality. They use their understanding of tree biology and pathology to identify symptoms, conduct tests, and recommend appropriate treatments or management strategies.

Tree Species Selection and Planting:

Arborists have in-depth knowledge of different tree species and their specific requirements. They can advise on suitable tree species selection for a given location, considering factors such as soil conditions, climate, and desired outcomes. Arborists can also provide guidance on proper tree planting techniques to ensure successful establishment and long-term growth.

Soil Analysis and Management:

Arborists understand the critical role of soil in tree health. They can assess soil quality, pH levels, and nutrient deficiencies. Based on these assessments, they recommend appropriate soil management practices, such as soil amendment or mulching, to enhance tree health and growth.

Tree Preservation and Conservation:

Arborists are advocates for tree preservation and conservation. They assess the impact of construction or development projects on trees and develop strategies to minimise damage and ensure tree protection. Arborists can also advise on best practices for tree preservation during land development or construction activities.

Research and Education:

Arborists stay up-to-date with the latest research, industry trends, and best practices in tree care. They continuously enhance their knowledge and skills through ongoing education and training. Arborists may also be involved in conducting research, contributing to the body of knowledge in the field of arboriculture.

While both tree surgeons and arborists share a common goal of tree care and maintenance, their areas of expertise and focus differ. Tree surgeons are highly skilled in the physical aspects of tree maintenance, such as pruning and removal, whereas arborists have a more comprehensive understanding of tree biology, health assessment, and preservation. Depending on your specific tree care needs, you may require the services of a tree surgeon for hands-on tasks or consult with an arborist for a more holistic approach to tree management.

In conclusion, tree surgeons and arborists play essential roles in maintaining the health and well-being of trees. While tree surgeons specialise in the physical aspects of tree care, such as pruning and removal, arborists provide a broader range of services, including tree health assessment, diagnosis, and conservation. By understanding the distinctions between these professions, you can make informed decisions and engage the right experts to meet your specific tree care requirements.



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