What is the difference between a chainsaw man, a Tree surgeon and an arboriculturist?


Who should look after your trees? (Why does it matter?)

What is the difference between a chainsaw man, a Tree surgeon and an arboriculturist? sounds a bit like the beginning a bad joke, but a question that my clients ask me all the time is who can I get to sort out my trees?  I was also inspired to write this after watching a neighbours tree being butchered and left as an eyesore.

As a property owner it is my responsibility to look after the trees within my boundaries; to know if any of them are protected, and to ensure they are well maintained, disease free and safe.  Now that is a lot of information to know and even as a qualified gardener and garden designer, my tree knowledge is limited to some basics, and you are never going to find me climbing a tree with a chain saw. So it pays to call in the experts. (NB. If a tree is listed it does not mean it can’t be pruned, but it cannot be removed without special permission from your local tree officer.)

In answer to the title question, it matters a great deal who you choose, if you want to preserve your trees, and keep them healthy for as long as possible. One thing these job titles all have in common is it is likely they all know how to use a chain saw, but not necessarily in the same way.

Your chain saw man, may have cut down many a tree, and taken off plenty of dead branches, but it is unlikely that they will know how the tree will be impacted by the cuts they make. In the worst case scenario they can do a lot of damage to trees and surrounding properties. If they can’t identify your tree, don’t let them near it with a chain saw.

A Tree surgeon: will have training and qualifications in tree surgery. They should be able to identify your tree. They will be properly insured, and will generally work in a team, for safety reasons. They should be aware of how much of a tree can be removed, for it to remain healthy and within any tree regulations. Unless you want to keep the logs, most will quote to take away and shred any cuttings. They should be able to spot if a tree is suffering from a disease, they won’t however necessarily know how to treat it.  Be wary if they offer to ‘top a tree’. This often means taking off too much growth and causing a mass of regrowth making the tree misshapen, and prone to disease.

An Arboriculturist should know all this and much more.  If you have a tree that has a preservation order on it, I would strongly advise getting an arboriculturalist to take a look at it before any work is carried out.  An arborist or arboriculturalist is trained to understand the mechanics and biology of a tree, and everything that’s going on within it. (including the root system) He or she will be able to give you a detailed assessment of its health, vitality and safety. They can advise on treatment for trees and shrubs, and carry out the necessary work to preserve a tree, or if need be remove it. They should also be able to advise on the right thing to plant to suit your garden and aspect.

It may cost you more to hire the right person for the job, but it could save an ailing tree from the chop or the pain and heartache of seeing a beautiful tree mangled by thoughtless cutting.

If you aren’t sure where to find your tree experts you can find local qualified Trees surgeons and Arboriculturalists at www.trees.org.uk, and putting in your post code.

Never be shy to ask to see qualifications or insurance when hiring a professional.

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