Do I Need a Tree Service Company or an Arborist for My Tree Work?

tree trimming in a cherry picker

When it’s time for tree service or maintenance in your yard, do you know who to call? Do you need a tree service? An arborist? What even is an arborist? Is there a difference (there is!)? And how can you tell which one to call first?

Many people have never even heard of an arborist before they need to hire one. Maybe you called your local tree service company, and they referred you to an arborist instead. Or maybe you started researching local tree companies and you keep finding links to arborists, and now you’re not so certain who to call.

What’s an Arborist?

An arborist is a professional tree health expert. They specialize in the health and safety of trees, and they have particular interest in and knowledge of how and when it is possible to save a tree that is damaged or dying. They are also experts in knowing which trees are best to plant in which areas, which trees will be easiest to maintain (and how to maintain them), and what to do to minimize the impact of invasive species for your area. Arborists are sometimes known as “tree surgeons” and they have expertise in “managing” trees, which means that they know how to prune and trim your tree for its optimal health and lifespan. They also have a great deal of expertise in dealing with pest infestations, and what to do if those pests are damaging or threatening your trees.

How is that Different from a Tree Service Company?

A tree service company may or may not employ one or more arborists. Arborists are always tree service professionals, but not all tree service professionals are arborists. Tree service companies have a wider variety of tasks that they are accustomed to handling, such as planting, fertilizing, mulching, trimming, and dead tree removal. Tree service companies are also experts in pruning and maintaining trees for optimal tree growth and health, and often take a very pragmatic approach, especially where trees impact property and safety.

Which One Should I Call, When?

For the vast majority of regular tree service and maintenance, a local tree service company makes the most sense as your first call. If you need seasonal tree work done, have a tree with a few damaged branches, or need regular pruning taken care of, call a tree service company near you. Tree service companies can provide tree removal service if you need help removing dead trees or stumps from your yard. A tree service company is also going to be your first call in the case of a tree emergency, such as a fallen tree.

If, on the other hand, you have a dying tree you are trying to save, if you have a pest infestation, or if you have questions about how to choose the best trees for your yard and for the local environment, you can consider a call to an arborist … or you can call your local tree service company to ask if one or more of their team is an arborist.

In short, both arborists and tree service companies are tree experts and professionals that can help you care for and maintain the health of your trees beginning now and throughout the life of your trees. They will often work together to find the best solution to a complex problem, or to get you the best plan for tree care. If you aren’t sure which type of professional your problem calls for, don’t hesitate to ask!