What is Tree Surgery?

the importance of safety with tree surgery

Most people would have heard of the term tree surgery but how many actually know what a tree surgeon does?

How many people know how to find a tree surgeon near me or you?

The answer to that is probably very few and so here we will look at what a tree surgeon does and what qualifications they need to become a professional tree surgeon.

It may not come as too much of a surprise given their name that they look after the well-being of trees and shrubs. What may come as a surprise is that they need no qualifications to become a tree surgeon.

Unlike a forestry commission worker or a logger, tree surgeons look after individual trees or shrubs. They do that by pruning them where necessary or even cutting them down if needed.

It has been said though that although a tree surgeon knows how to remove branches and chop down trees. Though because of their lack of formal training, they do not know the reason why they do it.

This has been said by arborists who are qualified in many aspects of tree and shrub well-being.


A recognized arborist may have several qualifications but in order to become fully recognized they must have at least some. As opposed to a tree surgeon that can award themselves that title, usually after gaining some experience.

Both the arborist and tree surgeon can be responsible for a plant’s health and to save the plant. It may be necessary to cut off any infected areas but if that does not work, cut down the tree.

Especially if there is a chance it could affect other trees in the area.


All countries have their own requirements to qualify as arborists but in the UK there are various levels of qualification up to a Master’s Degree.

There are many colleges in the UK that offer arboriculture courses. The minimum of which will qualify a person as an arborist although they will often be needed to also attain a chainsaw related safety certificate.

Further qualifications will allow them to legally work in the vicinity of electrical wires and other specialty areas.


It was the Englishman John Davey in the nineteenth century that first conceived the idea that trees should be treated for diseases. Just like animals and humans as trees are beneficial in many ways.

His concept was that science could sometimes intervene in the health of a tree, to both the tree and its owner’s benefit.

It was this concept that led to the first professional tree surgeons.

When Do You Need a Tree Surgeon?

Now you know what a tree surgeon or arborist is and what they do, you will know when to call them, or will you?

Many people that have a tree in their front garden which is perhaps starting to grow too close to power lines. Or perhaps extended too far into the street. Will have the first though of grabbing a chain saw and cutting off the protruding limb.

Although all too often this is a mistake.

Let’s face it, how often do we cut off an 800lb piece of wood, 20ft in the air?

So how can we know that we will be able to do it safely?

The answer is of course we don’t but an arborist can. As they are doing it on an almost daily basis.

Not only could we cause ourselves injury but we could also cause damage to other people’s property as well as our own.

Those damages could have very expensive consequences that make the cost of a tree surgeon look like chicken feed.

Additional Benefit

Whilst we have the tree surgeon on site, they can ensure that where the tree has been cut, does not get infected. As well as checking out the well-being of the rest of the tree.

They will be able to advice about any pruning that may be needed to avoid the tree from becoming overgrown in the wrong areas again.

Hiring a Tree Surgeon (Arborist)

Of course even knowing what a tree surgeon is and knowing when we should call one. This does not mean that we will be calling one on a regular basis.

So when we do call one, we should ensure that they are what they profess to be.

We should check any qualifications they may have to support their claim to being an arborist. We should also check that they seem to have adequate equipment to carry out the task successfully. As well as safely.

The hiring of a tree surgeon is not something that we should put off longer than absolutely necessary. As it is rare that a tree will heal itself without help.

The longer you take to call the surgeon, the worse the problem will become and could therefore be more expensive to solve.

Working Conditions

Although some of an arborist’s work can be carried out on the ground and reports can be written in an office. Much of an arborist’s work is done at varying heights up a tree.

For this reason there are special qualifications they can obtain. Affording them the knowledge to work at those heights in safety.

It is this ability for them to work in safety in what can be a very dangerous environment which makes them an asset to any community.

In Summary

A tree surgeon is in fact an arborist who has studied and qualified to become a valued professional.

When I hired a tree surgeon near me, I was impressed with their level of skill and training.

Although arborists may not be called on as often as electricians or plumbers. They do provide a valuable service in ensuring trees do not interfere with power lines. The result causing outages.

They ensure that no tree diseases spread and get out of hand and they also help to keep our surroundings well maintained.

Perhaps often under-appreciated or recognized as professionals. An arborist is none the less a profession that is needed by all of us at one time or another.

If not for our own tree, then for the trees that line our streets and help to keep our atmosphere as healthy as possible.

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