Which is Better, an Arborist or Tree Service?

Does It Make More Sense to Hire an Arborist or Tree Service?

That really depends on your needs. Obviously, regardless of your final decision, you’ll want to pick a safe, certified, and professional company. However, there’s a little more to it than that. Because, while a traditional tree service can meet your tree care needs, that’s not always the case. Now, if you just need a tree chopped down or a stump removed, there are lots of companies that can handle that. On the other hand, there are several services that only an arborist can provide. So, here’s how to decide if you need an arborist or tree service.

It’s All About the Level of Care You Need

The difference between an arborist and a traditional tree service is like the difference between a doctor who is a general practitioner and one who is a specialist. For instance, you may go to your family doctor with a specific problem with your nose. He may very well be able to help you. But it’s also possible he’ll have to refer you to an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor.

An arborist is like a tree care specialist. Yes, they can trim and remove trees and stumps, but that’s only the beginning. Here are four things only an arborist is trained to do.

1. Arborists Offer Tree Disease Treatment

While a traditional tree service may immediately resort to removing an unhealthy tree, an arborist can offer alternative treatments. These treatments can often save your tree and save you a lot of money!

For instance, let’s say you have a large tree and you think it needs to be removed because it is in poor health. While a traditional tree service will simply cut it down, an arborist can provide an alternate (and cheaper) solution. 

Let’s assume that removal is going to be $2,000 (with the understanding that those costs vary greatly based on tree size, location, and other factors). An arborist may be able to save that same tree with treatments every 1 – 2 years that cost $150 – $250 per treatment! This allows you to keep your tree along with the shade and other benefits it provides. Plus, you get to keep a ton of money.

2. Arborists Also Provide Tree Pest Control

Tree pests can harm the health of your leafy friends just as much as a disease can. And whether your tree is suffering from emerald ash borer or hemlock woolly adelgid, you’ll need an arborist to help you out.

Only arborists are trained on how to properly handle the numerous pests that can infest your trees. And while you may think your tree is beyond repair, we could save it with proper pest control measures. These measures may include a spray or stem injection.

Again, these measures cost a fraction of what removal does!

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3. Arborists Can Plant and Transplant Trees

Tree planting and transplanting may seem like a simple task. However, if you’re going to hire someone to plant trees on your property, you want to make sure they know how to do it right. Common mistakes include planting too deep or too shallow, leaving twine around tree stems, or planting in a way that causes girdling roots to develop. However, an arborist knows how to set trees up for success so they grow healthy and strong. And they’ll understand which trees make sense for your climate and which don’t.

4. Arborists Also Offer Cabling and Bracing

Sometimes weaknesses will occur in the branch unions of a tree. If these weaknesses are severe enough, a tree can literally split apart, creating a major hazard for you and your family. This normally occurs if a tree is diseased, wounded, or improperly pruned. While a typical tree service will normally encourage removal, STS Arborists can offer your tree a second shot at life with cabling and bracing. Additionally, we also offer tree risk evaluations looking for included bark, signs of root rot, or die-back in areas that should be healthy.

Image Credit: Joseph OBrien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

This tree has a healthy, U-shaped branch union.

Image Credit: Joseph OBrien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Here is an example of an unhealthy, tight, V-shaped branch union.

Cabling involves attaching a cable between the two compromised branches. This cable is held in place with large J-lags that are inserted ⅔ of the way up the canopy on large parts of the trunk that will hold well. This helps to counteract the branches pulling away at the weak branch union.

On the other hand, bracing involves inserting a long threaded rod through the trunk to address structural problems. This is done in conjunction with cabling to add an extra level of protection.

Cabling and Bracing Can Prevent This!

cabling and bracing could have prevented this
Image Credit: Joseph OBrien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org Creative Commons License licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

So, Do You Need an Arborist or Tree Service?

Again, everyone is in a different situation. And whether you need an arborist or tree service is up to a number of factors. At STS Arborists, we tackle tree and stump removal every day. But, as arborists, we also come with extensive knowledge of plant health and alternative treatment methods.

Also, if you want more info on the benefits of hiring an arborist?

Then check out this free PDF from the International Society of Arboriculture.

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