Tree Care vs. General Landscaping: What’s the Difference?

by Matt Solis


Working on trees requires different training and equipment than traditional landscaping.

Trees take decades, sometimes centuries, to grow to maturity, and they must be cared for with more expertise than shrubbery and ground covers. A qualified arborist needs an in-depth knowledge of trees that a general landscaper usually doesn’t possess. Tree work also poses different safety and liability concerns, so arborists must carry more insurance and be better trained in how to safely work with and among trees.

Accreditation and certification are the most important things to look for in a tree care company. Are its arborists certified by the International Society of Arboriculture? Are they accredited by the Tree Care Industry Association? You should also ask how long the company has been in business. Although it’s a rigorous test to become a certified arborist, some recent graduates don’t have the same amount of practical knowledge that comes from years of onsite experience.

Insurance and safety are especially important when it comes to tree care—unlike most standard landscaping work, missteps can result in serious property damage or severe injuries. Make sure you ask the company how much liability insurance it carries and what it covers. The accreditation process includes safety, so an accredited tree care company should have a good safety record. If you have doubts or concerns, run a workers’ compensation report to see what the safety record is for yourself.

Another question to consider: What does the arborist do with the wood chips and biomass that are generated from tree care? Does the firm simply cart it to a landfill, or is it used to create bio-fuel and Green electricity?

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