What Does an Arborist Do and Should I Use One?

You learned about the importance of trees when you were in grade school. Trees are so important that they are considered one of the most important things on earth. Trees are essential to the environment. Without trees, all life forms, including human beings, will not survive on this planet.

Trees are the oldest and biggest species on earth. Each one of them provides economic, health, social, and environmental benefits.

In your home, trees make your property complete and provide an extra layer of security and privacy. Trees also contribute to the ambiance of your home. They also act as barriers between your next-door neighbor’s windows and your windows.

Most homeowners have a few trees in their yards. Some even have many trees.

To be able to benefit from trees, they need to be well-cared and maintained. You may have heard about tree doctors, but have you heard about arborists and how important they are in tree care?

Do you need to invest in an arborist for your trees? It is not common to hear about arborists, but it is essential to know what they do and what they can do for your trees.

What is a Certified Arborist?

A certified arborist is someone who has been trained and who is experienced in the science and art of planting, caring, and maintaining trees. A certified arborist is a professional who holds a certification from the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).

Securing an ISA certification (non-governmental) involves a voluntary process wherein an arborist needs to document their knowledge of trees. They need to have achieved a high level of knowledge in tree care science and art through experience.

An arborist also needs to pass a comprehensive exam created by the leading professionals in tree care to test their knowledge of arboriculture areas. Arboriculture deals with the study of trees and how they react to the environment and cultural practices.

After passing the comprehensive examination, an arborist becomes a certified arborist. Certified arborists should invest in an ongoing education program to keep updated with the latest technologies, trends, and techniques in arboriculture to maintain their certification.

Why Use an Arborist for Tree Care?

Becoming a certified arborist is not a walk in the park. Arborists need to have a minimum of 3 years of field experience, pass a certification exam, and keep updated with the latest techniques and trends in arboriculture.

This means that hiring a certified arborist is hiring a professional with a high level of knowledge, skills, and experience to take care of your trees.

Your trees are a worthwhile investment that increases the value of your property. This is if your trees are properly trimmed, pruned, and well-maintained. The overall well-being of trees in your yard will not only increase the value of your property but will also save it from future damage.

With a certified arborist on board, you will have the peace of mind that the beauty and health of your trees are well cared for, and your property is safe and secure.

Your property’s safety is a significant concern. Hiring only a tree care service that does not have professional training on caring for and maintaining trees can put your trees, property, and family at risk.

What Does an Arborist Do?

An arborist is often referred to as a tree surgeon or a tree doctor. Arborists care and defend trees because they know how valuable trees are to your property and the environment.

A single tree that is well-planted in the best location and is well-cared for and maintained can immediately increase your property’s value. Experienced Certified Arborist can make these happen.

What does an arborist, therefore, do?

Plant trees
Prune trees
Prevent parasites from infiltrating the trees
Protect the trees from lightning
Create structural support for the trees
Remove dangerous vegetation

And anything that concerns woody plants and trees.

An arborist works on small, regular, large, and complex trees. They are not limited to working on the trees in your yard.

They can also work on abiotic components (weather, sunlight, temperature, fertilizer, radiation, or humidity) and ecological communities (an ecosystem consisting of plants, animals, and bacterial communities).

Along this line, an arborist can manage wood plant life’s safety and health in a park. He will also ensure that the park is well-maintained, safe, healthy, and in tune with the community’s standards.

Not all arborists work directly with shrubs and trees. Some do consultancy. Some write plans, and others are tasked to give legal testimonies.

Some arborists do a combination of the tasks mentioned above. This brings to mind that an arborist’s life involves working with a wide variety of tools and a vast list of potential tasks.

While on the field, arborists not only use pruning shears and ropes. Some large tasks require the use of lifts and cranes.

What are the Services an Arborist Can Provide?

If you do not have trees in your yard, you do not need an arborist. But why don’t you want to have trees on your property when they can add to the beauty and increase your property value?

An arborist can help you decide what trees are right for your yard and the best locations to plant them.

If you already have trees in your yard, an arborist can help you check on their health and overall well-being.

What then are the services provided by an arborist?

1. Tree Planting

You planted a tree near your living room window, not knowing that it will grow big and wild. This tree will eventually cause damage to your home.

An arborist has the knowledge and expertise to choose the right tree for your yard, the best location to plant them in your yard, and the proper way to plant them.

An arborist considers the size of the tree when it is fully grown to determine the best location to plant it. He also knows the right species of trees that are suitable for your area. He also knows exactly the type of care and maintenance the tree needs, especially during its early growth stages.

2. Pruning

A tree is pruned to prevent the disease from spreading, maintain its beauty, keep your property safe, and prevent storm damage.

Proper pruning requires specific methods and techniques. An arborist will first assess the condition of the trees before they recommend pruning. They will then determine what type of pruning needs to be done to maintain or enhance the trees’ appearance, health, and safety.

The arborist will use any of these techniques to achieve his goals:

Cut off branches that touch each other.
Get rid of weak and dead limbs that may decay or be a hazard.
Remove limbs that get in the way of wires, gutters, windows, chimneys, gutters, building facades, and obstruct sidewalks or streets.
Get rid of limbs that have diseases or are infested by insects.
Train young trees.
Create a better structure to reduce possible storm damage and minimize wind resistance.
Remove thinning or branches that obstruct light.
Remove damaged limbs
Improve the silhouette or shape of the trees.

3. Emergency Care

Limbs of the trees or the entire tree may fall because of a storm. The fallen tree may land on other trees, structures, your car, or your home. Storm-damaged trees are heavy and can be dangerous to trim or remove. An arborist knows the right and safe way to cut the tree to prevent it from causing any or further damage.

4. Health Care

Plant Health Care (PHC) is one of the services provided by arborists. This preventive maintenance measure aims to keep trees in good health and defend themselves against site problems, disease, and insect infiltration.

Applying fertilizers
Aeration to improve the growth of roots
Spraying to control or prevent diseases and insect problems
Installing lightning protection systems
Bracing or cabling to provide additional support to branches that have a weak attachment.

5. Tree Removal

Many people think that removing trees is a simple task, and any tree company can do it. Many tree professionals look at tree removal as the only solution to deal with damaged trees.

Arborists look at tree removal as a last resort to deal with damaged trees. Arborists will always find ways to save the tree before cutting it, just like a dentist will try to save a tooth before extracting it.

Tree removal may be the last option, but there are circumstances when it is the only option. An arborist can help you decide when there is no other option left but to remove the tree.

An arborist would recommend tree removal in these circumstances:

The tree is dying or dead.
The tree is an obstruction and cannot be corrected through pruning.
The tree is extremely hazardous.
The tree is in a location where it has to give way to new construction.
A more appropriate specimen is to be planted in the space of the tree.
The tree is causing harm or crowding other trees.

6. Care and Maintenance

Trees need regular care and maintenance for preventive measures before winter. An arborist can also check the trees’ condition after the harsh cold weather to check for any damage so they can help the tree recover fast.

Is there a difference between a tree surgeon and an Arborist?

You want your trees always to maintain their health and beauty.  You know you need a tree care service. Have you been in a quandary on whether to hire a tree surgeon or an arborist? Arborists are often referred to as tree doctors.  The truth is, both professionals are different and do different tasks.

Arborists and tree surgeons are always used interchangeably. Some even refer to them as the same professionals.

Some tasks can be done by either a tree doctor or an arborist. There is almost a thin line that separates what both can do.

Depending on the task, you should know whether you need to hire a tree surgeon or an arborist.

Tree Surgeon

Tree removal
Stump grinding
Emergency care
Site clearance

Well-trained tree surgeons do dangerous tasks in a professional—safe, accurate, and caring manner. Felling a tree is something that cannot be done with precision without proper and adequate training.

Trees need to be removed professionally because the direction in which they will fall should be precise and accurate to avoid damage to the surroundings.


Identifies diseases in trees.
Determines trees that will grow given the conditions in an area.
Studies the soil type.
Treats trees due to damage caused by poor conditions of the environment
Give the right management advice.
Carries out tree inspections in a professional manner

An experienced arborist immediately sees when a tree has some disease. They study the signs and recommend the right care to save the tree.  He also analyses the surroundings to determine which species will thrive in the environment. He makes sure the tree grows in a healthy environment.

A well-trained and experienced arborist will immediately see the signs of an impending tree failure and make recommendations on the right thing to do.

How to Find an Arborist?

Deciding to find an arborist is not easy, and finding one is not easy, too. It would be best if you did your research, so you do not end up putting the person you hired and your landscaping at risk.

Caring for and maintaining trees is not an easy job. The person you choose should be knowledgeable, well-trained, highly-skilled, and professional.

How then do you find the right arborist for your trees?

Make sure the arborist you are considering is an ISA certified arborist.

An arborist who is a member of the ISA is sure to be knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced in caring for and maintaining trees. They have passed the 3-year filled experience required and passed the ISA examples on tree care and maintenance.

Talk to about three certified arborists.

Family and friends are always the best choices when finding a professional service. The same is true when finding an arborist. Ask for references from family and friends. You can also search online for the roster of members of the ISA chapter in your area.

Make sure to talk to at least three possible arborists. Get estimates from each of them. Ask each of them to look at your trees and submit a cost estimate of what needs to be done.  Their estimates should include what needs to be immediately done, and if you wish, have regulated care and maintenance.

Ask for valid references.

If friends and family referred them, then they come in with built-in references. If you searched for them somewhere else (e.g., the internet, the ISA., etc.), ask for their references. You can then call each of their references to verify their working attitudes, working styles, personalities, etc.

Stay away from arborists who want to do excessive pruning.

Knowledgeable and expert arborists will not recommend pruning often or topping a tree. These methods can cause injury to trees. These practices can also be hazardous to the tree. If the candidate/s for the job suggests excessive pruning, set them aside.

Ensure they have the required legal documents

Ask for bonds, license to operate, and insurance. The license should state that they are a legal entity and have met the state requirements to operate as a business. The insurance certificate should include general liability in case of damage to property and worker’s compensation in case of injuries incurred while on the job.

Beware of door-knockers or cold calls.

This often happens after a storm or a natural calamity. There will be people who will come knocking on your door, claiming they can clean up your yard and deal with your damaged trees. Stay away from them at all costs.

You should only hire experts in the field. They must know what needs to be done and what kind of services you need. Determine the area of specialization of the arborists you are considering and choose the one that will make sure your trees are always beautiful, safe, and healthy. Make sure to check reviews and their references.

Study discounts well

Do not rush to hire the arborist that offers you a discount. Many arborist and tree service providers offer all sorts of discounts. Before being tempted to accept the offer and discount,

understand your requirements, the service’s cost, and the details of the discount. An arborist may give you a big discount, but cleaning up the area after a job may not be part of their service.

Make sure the arborist does not use spikes when climbing your trees.

Be observant and ask questions. Never hire arborists who use spurs or spikes when working on your trees. Tree-climbing spurs or spikes can harm your trees and dig holes to allow insects and diseases, which can weaken trees or even cause their death.

Avoid hiring the lowest bidder.

In hiring service providers, never hire the lowest bidder on principle.  The same is true when hiring an arborist. Extremely low-cost estimates can mean poor service, lack of professionalism, fewer credentials, and no bond, license, and insurance.

When finding an arborist, know what you want to be done so you can match the job with the right arborist.

Final Thoughts

Beautiful and healthy trees are sights to love and adore. Trees offer a lot of benefits to your home. However, you can only enjoy these benefits when your trees are beautiful, well cared for, and well-maintained. The right certified arborist will make sure all these happen.


Jenni M
Tribal Writer

Edited by
Patricia Godwin

Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, but her first love is gardening. She’s never met a plant she didn’t like and, consequently, she writes about every type of plant you can think of. Once an avid gardener with a herb garden, a succulent rockery, and a rose garden – to mention a few. Nowadays, she’s constantly on the move searching for interesting plants to bring to your attention; and explain to you all the details you need to grow, care and maintain these plants.

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