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Landscaper vs Arborist: What’s the Difference?

Landscapers are specialists whose primary focus is the visual design and upkeep of lawns, gardens, parks, and other outdoor areas. Landscapers specialize in landscape and hardscape installation, lawn care, lawn irrigation installation and maintenance, mulching, garden bed preparation and maintenance, and sometimes shrub pruning. 

Arborists are tree, shrub, and woody plant specialists trained and experienced in the care of trees. They are knowledgeable about the needs of trees and how to maintain them. Arborists specialize in pruning, trimming, removing trees, caring for mature trees, cabling, stump grinding, and more.

Who Is an Arborist?

  • Arborists, also known as tree surgeons or arboriculturists, specialize in cultivating, managing, and studying individual trees, shrubs, and other woody plants. 
  • Arborists are highly trained in working with dangerous equipment and know pruning standards. They have the training and tools to perform tree care services correctly and safely. 
  • They are trained to plant, care for, maintain, and diagnose the health of trees and other woody plant life. 
  • Arborists provide tree pruning, disease diagnosis and treatment, pest control, tree removal, and tree protection. 
  • These certified professionals have the knowledge and expertise to ensure the health and safety of trees. 
  • Arborists matriculate in various disciplines of arboriculture, such as tree diagnosis and treatment, climbing and pruning, and consultation and report writing.

What Qualifications Are Required to Become an Arborist?

Becoming an arborist necessitates obtaining an associate degree or a blend of pertinent experience and education. The following are the typical qualifications needed to embark on a career as an arborist:

  1. Education and Training: An associate degree in arboriculture or a related field is required. Relevant coursework includes botany, chemistry, horticulture, and plant pathology.
  2. Experience: Some paths to becoming an arborist involve gaining relevant experience. For example, a minimum of three years of experience working in the tree care industry is required in New Jersey to become a certified arborist.
  3. Certification and Continuing Education: Arborists need accreditation from organizations like the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). This comprises passing rigorous qualification examinations and participating in ongoing continuing education.
  4. Skills and Competencies: Key skills and competencies for arborists include a thorough knowledge of tree biology, identification, maintenance, safety procedures, and practical communication skills.

Although obtaining an associate degree in arboriculture or a related field is frequently necessary, relevant experience and certification are equally vital for embarking on a career as an arborist. Furthermore, keeping abreast of industry advancements and engaging in continuous education is imperative for upholding professional standards.

What Are the Benefits of Hiring an Arborist Instead of Doing the Work Yourself?

Hiring an arborist instead of doing tree work yourself has several benefits, which comprise:

  • Arborists are exceptionally knowledgeable and experienced professionals who understand trees and are furnished with the right machinery to ensure a safe job. 
  • They provide proper tree care, identify potential issues early, and ensure your trees’ overall health. 
  • Arborists assist in overcoming the challenges of pruning or removing trees, which is dangerous work. They follow necessary safety tips to carry out such work and prevent harm to your property. 
  • Arborists are certified and licensed and possess the experience, credentials, and tools to safely remove the tree’s branches, trunk, or stump. They also provide advice on tree planting, maintenance, and care.

Thus, hiring an arborist is the best choice for tree work that requires vast knowledge and experience, and it ensures the welfare and health of your trees and property.

Who Is a Landscaper?

Landscapers are professionals primarily designing, installing, and maintaining outdoor spaces such as gardens, lawns, and landscapes. They work to enhance the aesthetic appeal and functionality of outdoor areas by selecting and arranging plants, trees, shrubs, and other elements to create visually pleasing and functional landscapes. Landscapers offer a wide range of services, including:

  • Landscape Design: Landscapers work with clients to create custom landscape designs that reflect their preferences, budget, and lifestyle. This includes developing plans for planting beds, walkways, patios, water features, and other outdoor amenities.
  • Planting and Installation: Landscapers are responsible for selecting and installing plants, trees, and other landscape elements according to the design plan. They ensure proper spacing, placement, and soil preparation to promote healthy growth and long-term vitality.
  • Hardscape Construction: Landscapers also construct hardscape features such as retaining walls, fences, decks, pergolas, and outdoor kitchens. They use a variety of materials, including stone, brick, wood, and concrete, to create durable and functional outdoor living spaces.
  • Lawn Care and Maintenance: Landscapers provide ongoing maintenance services to keep outdoor spaces looking their best. It includes mowing, trimming, fertilizing, aerating, overseeing lawns, pruning, mulching, weeding, and planting beds.
  • Irrigation and Drainage: Landscapers design and install irrigation systems to ensure proper watering of plants and lawns and drainage solutions to prevent waterlogging and erosion. In addition, they offer seasonal maintenance and repairs for irrigation systems.

What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Landscaper?

The qualifications required to become a landscaper vary, but the following are routine paths to pursue a career in landscaping:

  1. Education: A high school diploma is a minimum requirement predicated on the location and experience.
  2. Experience and Training: Gaining on-the-job training and experience is valuable for becoming a landscaper. This is acquired through apprenticeships with landscaping firms or veteran landscapers.
  3. Certification and Licensure: While not always required, certification from professional associations such as the National Association of Landscape Professionals enhances a landscaper’s credentials.

Formal education is not always mandatory; having a degree in landscaping, horticulture, or a related field is beneficial for a career in landscaping. Gaining practical experience, certification, and licensure are also crucial for professional development in this field.

What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Landscaper Instead of Doing the Tree Work Yourself?

Hiring a landscaper instead of doing tree work yourself offers several benefits, including:

  1. Consistency: Professional landscapers provide consistent services, ensuring that your outdoor spaces are well-maintained over time.
  2. Time Savings: Outsourcing landscaping tasks saves time, allowing you to focus on other priorities while ensuring your property looks its best.
  3. Expertise and Equipment: Landscapers bring knowledge, experience, and specialized equipment to the job, ensuring that the work is done right and to a high standard.
  4. Artistic Vision: Landscapers are skilled at creating attractive outdoor spaces, offering creative design ideas and advice.
  5. Physical Relief: Hiring a landscaper spares you from the physical strain of yard work, such as heavy lifting and repetitive tasks, which are hard on the body.
  6. Cost-Effectiveness: Professional landscapers aid you stay within budget by avoiding purchasing expensive tools and equipment for occasional use.
  7. Property Value: Well-maintained landscaping substantially increases the value of your property, making it more attractive to potential buyers.

Hiring a landscaper offers convenience and time savings, access to expertise, specialized equipment, and the potential to enhance the value of your property.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Choosing Arborists and Landscapers for Tree Care?

Here’s a breakdown of the major advantages and disadvantages of each option:


  • Advantage: Arborists possess extensive knowledge about trees, ensuring comprehensive care.
  • Disadvantage: Their services usually come at a higher cost compared to landscapers.
  • Advantage: They excel in handling complex tree-related issues such as removal and trimming.
  • Disadvantage: Due to high demand, scheduling an appointment with an arborist may require planning.


  • Advantage: Landscapers provide an array of services, making it convenient to address multiple needs at once.
  • Disadvantage: Typically lack the particularized expertise in tree care that arborists possess.
  • Advantage: Landscapers often offer same-day service since they typically have fewer appointments than arborists.

How do I decide whether to hire a landscaper or an arborist?

The decision to hire a landscaper or an arborist depends on your specific needs. A landscaper is the right choice if you require outdoor design, planting, and lawn care services. Hiring an arborist is recommended for tree-specific issues such as pruning, removal, or health assessment.

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