What’s the Difference Between a Tree Surgeon and an Arborist

Should you hire an arborist or a tree surgeon? The terms tree surgeon and arborist are typically used interchangeably. Unsurprising given that arboriculture involves the cultivation and care of trees which encompasses the job descriptions of both tree surgeons and arborists. As you would expect, the difference between the two is quite subtle. Adding to the confusion, many competent and professional tree surgeons have resorted to referring to themselves as arborists in order to distance themselves from the increasing proliferation of cowboy builders in the industry. We have tried to clarify the differences in this post. However, if you are still confused, Top Tree Surgeons Bristol will put together the right mix of climbers, arborists, tree surgeons and groundsmen to get your job completed satisfactorily.

arborist on a tree

The Arborist

Competent arborists are adept at identifying from the symptoms exhibited by a tree, which diseases might be afflicting it. They are then able to provide recommendations for treatment as a medical GP would. Ecosystems are very complex and it typically takes a qualified arborist to make assessments and recommendations for which plants are able to thrive in certain conditions. They consider the soil type and the existing plants and wildlife within the space. 

The Tree Surgeon

A qualified tree surgeon’s job tends to be more physical and often dangerous, requiring proper training, precision, care and professionalism. A common job a tree surgeon might be required to carry out is felling a diseased tree. This can involve aerial work, (e.g. climbing), using complex machinery like a chainsaw and ropes or a mobile crane to lower the tree branches and limbs with precision to the ground. Tree surgeons are therefore constantly having to wield complex machinery sometimes within confined spaces, whilst minimising injury to persons and damage to property. 

In Summary

Using a simple analogy, like an Arborist, a GP is there to diagnose an illness based on your symptoms. They are also able to provide you with advice as to how to stay healthy and thrive. However, there are instances where the only form of treatment might be surgery. In the case of trees, that is where a tree surgeon comes in, performing tree pruning or complete tree removal if the tree is unrecoverable.

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