Toronto Tree Service FAQ

What’s the Difference Between an Arborist and a Landscaper?

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Arboriculture Industry » Best Practices » What’s the Difference Between an Arborist and a Landscaper?

What’s the Difference Between an Arborist and a Landscaper?

Arborist vs Landscaper: Are Arborists Landscapers?

As a homeowner, you may wonder what the difference is between a landscaper and an arborist. Do they do the same thing? Can you call one person to manage all of your outdoor plant-related work?

Though there is crossover, arborists are your tree doctors: the people to look to when your trees, shrubs and woody plants need some TLC. Landscapers focus on your garden: smaller plants and flowers, aesthetics, and lawns.

What Do Landscapers Do?

Landscape companies’ work can include gardening, garden and landscape design, lawn care, lawn treatments, mulching, and watering.

When it comes to soil and fertilizer, you may find the most overlap. Both arborists and landscapers may do soil tests and fertilizing, but the end goal should give you a clue where to focus. If it’s your rose bushes you’re looking to fertilize, call a landscaper; if it’s your maple tree, call an arborist.

What Do Arborists Do?

Arborists are tree care professionals. When it’s a tree you need help with, an arborist is the right person to choose. Arborists specialize in tree pruning, tree removals, emergency tree maintenance, stump removal, fertilizing, planting, and other tree and shrub care. We assess tree conditions and make a recommendation for the tree’s care. If you need an arborist report for a municipal permit, whether to remove a tree or initiate construction work, you’ll need a certified arborist. We also make reports for other reasons, including landscaping and for prospective homebuyers or property buyers.

As urban arborists, our goal is to manage tree health. That means making the best choices to care for trees, whether it’s removing a branch, cabling a shaky limb, fertilizing, or treating an infestation.

Certified Arborists vs Tree Trimmers

Landscapers can be certified (see here for a list of landscape industry designations), but often are not. Likewise, some people call themselves arborists (or tree trimmers or a tree service) without industry training or certification, but it’s safest to work with a certified arborist or company with certified arborists on staff.

Certified arborists have training in tree identification, planting, health and diseases, along with pruning and cutting practices. A certified landscaper may have expertise in garden, lawn and small plant health, planting and types. Many will have familiarity with common Ontario trees and popular garden trees, and may have a passing knowledge of common issues and pests, but arborists are the real experts when it comes to trees. That’s why you want them to be diagnosing your tree issues properly.

The Ontario chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture has more advice for customers on why to hire a certified arborist and you don’t need to take your arborist’s word for it: you can also look up whether an arborist is a member in good standing.

Technical Knowledge

Grcs set up for tree services by certified arborists on the base of a large tree in wychwood / the annex in toronto. Three rigging lines for tree pruning and a professional arborist climbing line hang from the black locust. Camera view up the tree looking towards sky.
Complex tree removal job on top of hill with no access

Anyone can hack a branch off a tree with a trimmer or saw, but it takes training and skills to know how to remove or prune branches in the best manner for a tree or shrub’s growth. An arborist will recommend pruning methods that can not only remove a dead or dying branch or open up an overgrown view, but will create the healthiest future growth for the tree. Proper pruning not only removes excess branches, but helps a tree’s branches grow to maximize healthy growth patterns and sunlight to the tree.

Similarly, planting recommendations from arborists focus on how a tree will thrive in the environment it’s planted in and support other surrounding trees and features. Arborists are mindful of native species, soil conditions, sunlight, growth height and distance from buildings.

Safety Training

Certified arborists are trained to safely conduct tree work using industry best practices. When you use an arborist, you know you’re getting someone who can handle climbing and cuts on trees safely. This may not be the case for landscapers and gardeners [internal link to chain saw safety article]. We know how to safely rig a rope on a tree to climb it and to lower branches and cut pieces to the ground without risk of injury to people or property. We have the proper equipment to safely conduct tree removals, hazard removals and pruning jobs.

At Vista Tree, in addition to ISA certification, one owner is a licensed tree safety technician and our team includes Ontario licensed pesticide application technicians, so you can be assured we’re using any pesticides and plant treatments safely as well.

We Can Work Together

Just because landscapers and arborists have different roles, that doesn’t mean you need to pick one or the other now that you know the difference between an arborist and a landscaper. Our work often complements one another. If we know part of a job is outside our knowledge and scope, arborists often refer work to landscapers, and vice versa.

For instance, arborists may handle tree planting or stump removal for a landscaping job, or we may refer planting jobs for smaller plants to a landscape company.

Have you determined that an arborist is the right person for the job? Contact Vista Tree for your free quote.

author avatar
Michael Co-Founder
Michael is a Certified Arborist and founder of the company. He holds a Certificate in Urban Arboriculture (Honours) from Humber College, Certificate in Project Leadership from Cornell, has post-graduate studies in Urban Forestry and Arboriculture from Oregon State College of Foresty and holds a BAH in Ancient History with a minor in Business. In addition to being an ISA Certified Arborist, he is a TCIA Certified Tree Safety Professional, Tree Appraisal Qualified by Arboriculture Canada and holds a Landscape Exterminator license. Michael sat on the Board of Director for the Ontario Commercial Arborist Association in 2022 and 2023. He worked at some of the top arboriculture companies in Southern Ontario before starting Vista Tree Management. Before that, he was an award-winning Executive Director in the nonprofit sector and published marketing consultant. On the rare days off, Michael can be found at home with his family - a loving wife, two daughters and two cats in Central Toronto.
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Great Reviews - Toronto Tree Service

James and his team did an excellent job trimming my Walnut and other trees on my property. They removed all the branches and tidied up very nicely before they left. I will absolutely use Vista Tree Management again.
Michal was very pleasant to deal with during the quoting process and he conveyed the most knowledge from the 3 companies I approached. James and his crew did an excellent job with the removal of two trees and pruning of a large Manitoba Maple that totally covered my deck. Great to see sunlight again! James is very friendly and also knowledgeable. When the work was completed we did a walk through and he thoroughly explained what they did. The clean up was also fantastic.
Thanks very much!
VISTA do good work. I've used then for clients and all work gets done on time with an industry competitive budget. Their customers service is always excellent as well
Showed up on time. Scoped the work with us. Cleaned up nicely. Decent price. We will use them again.
Had great experience with Vista Tree for pruning of our tree. Super quick response to seamless execution. Highly recommend!
James was extremely helpful in helping us get the right tree for our backyard and was very friendly and professional
Outstanding Service! The arborist who came to provide an estimate gave very helpful with suggestions on how we should proceed to trim a very large tree - keeping in mind privacy with neighbours and ensuring shade over our home in the summer. He even took photographs to mark up to guide the crew coming to do the work. The crew showed up as scheduled and did its work very efficiently and we were extremely pleased with the results. Very reasonable pricing - great value for the money. Vista Tree Management will be my one and only supplier of these services in the future.
Vista Tree Management provided an excellent service of removing a large tree from a backyard of my property in Toronto. The whole process of quoting, and doing the job was very efficient, clearly explained and provided as promised. Their price for the serviced was very competitive.
My parents used their service to cut a tree down in their backyard. This tree was in such an awkward position where it was interfering with 2 other neighbors. James ensured me that the service would be done in a very professional manner and no damage would be done. Im glad to say he was right and had a group of 6 hard working individuals made the job done safely and efficiently. I would highly recommend this company for anyone needing tree removal.
Everything went smooth, from the initial assessment visit to the email communication to the job getting done! Thank you guys for your professionalism and quality work!!
Vista is an excellent company to deal with. The owners went above and beyond expectations to help deal with a unique situation. The guys who did the work were not only professional but also very polite. I will be using them again to help with other work in the future.
We are very happy with all the work Vista Tree Management accomplished on our property.  James was very professional and gave us excellent advice concerning the trimming of our 12 foot cedar hedges and the pruning of our mature silver maple trees.  The crew was very friendly and hard working, they did a tremendous job on the work required and they did an excellent job with the clean up.  We would highly recommend Vista Tree services to our family and friends.  We will definitely use them again for all of our future projects.
John & Sonja
They just did my front lawn, and boy, did they leave a lasting impression!

They were straightforward with the plan - clear and precise, ensuring that I was well informed of the process and outcome. The execution was meticulous and exceeded my expectations. Moreover, the cleanliness post-service was remarkable, leaving no trace of debris or disruption.

They were on time and was the epitome of friendly and cheerful—felt like I had friends over for a garden party!

Overall, their service was excellent at every stage. The inquiry, consultation, customer support, day-of service, follow-up, and payment process were all seamless.

I had peace of mind and very happy with Vista. I highly recommend them to those in need of reliable and thorough tree management service.
I can’t say enough positive comment about James and Vista Tree. We were “ghosted” by 2 other tree management companies last fall. James came by and provided separate quotes for two very large trees on our property, both of which were a challenge to severely prune. They were a hazard and had to be addressed. The quotes were delivered the next day after assessment. The team was here on two separate days (April 30 and May 7). They were efficient, professional and most importantly safe. Hollis, the arborist who climbed the trees was friendly and communicated everything he was doing to the trees as well as any changes he made once he was up in the tree. The other members of the crew (Syd and Pete, I can’t remember the others) were professional and friendly. They cleaned everything up and were open to any suggestions we had regarding disposal of the wood. I would highly recommend this company. We will be having them back again to do more work, in the fall.
Leaside neighbours take note!! Exceptional and professional service from start to finish. The team at Vista Tree Management responded to an urgent and critical situation. They were efficient, skilled and courteous. They handled the tree removal with precision and left our backyard immaculate. I highly recommend this team for your tree removal needs. They beat the competition by $1000+
James and his team did a great job pruning and trimming our old silver maple. James answered all my questions, provided expert advice and had his team do the work shortly after. The workers were professional, cleaned the space well, and were really efficient. Would definitely recommend Vista Tree management!
James was great! Very professional and you can definitely tell he knows what he’s talking about. They provided a quote in a timely manner booked us in for the tree pruning within a few days afterwards. The job was done quickly, professionally and the crew was friendly and polite. They cleaned up everything once the work was completed. Highly recommend!
Safe, fast, personable team - did a great job with tree trimming and removal! Note: the removal of a tree was not on the original scope and they still made it happen!
By the end of the day, I wouldn’t have even known they were there.
Very Happy with the professional advice and service we received from Vista which was promptly done. The follow-up to ensure we were happy with the work was appreciated.
Highly recommend! Michal came by first to take a look at things and provide the estimate. He’s obviously passionate about what he does and I learned a ton about my tree that I had no idea about! He gave me the confidence I needed to schedule the work. James and the “J-Crew” arrived on the scheduled day and were super friendly. The team did an amazing job with trimming my large overgrown maple and a fantastic cleanup job. My yard looked better than before they arrived. Will definitely have them back for future maintenance! Thanks Vista!
Great service from a great crew of people! The team was amazing from consulting on best ways to tackle the project, safely removing the trees and making sure the job was done to satisfaction. Would highly recommend and definitely use them again.
These guys are incredibly professional and by far the best arborist that have visited our home. And we've had many!

What impressed me the most was throughout their only concern was safety for my family and our property. With that and that only in mind they made all the cuts and changes that were required. When they left, I felt the most relief I felt about the trees in our backyard in a long time.

Truly appreciate your hard work and will highly recommend you in the future!
After doing a fair bit of research into Toronto-based arborists, we decided to go with Vista, and are very happy we did! From my first meeting with Mike when he came to give us a free quote, I was impressed with his knowledge and professionalism. Mike and his crew were punctual on the day they came to prune the deadwood from our very large Red Oak tree, answered my questions, and worked for 7 hours straight to get the job done. We were impressed from beginning to end, and wouldn’t hesitate to hire them again!
These guys are the best! Very professional, easy to work with and very nice people.
James was amazing in communication and and arranging everything. He is a wonderful person and professional. I had 4 different companies for the quotes and Vista Tree were the best by every criteria I had in mind. After the work was done they cleaned the whole territory even the mess that was here before them. I would definitely recommend them and will call them again when I need any tree work done. Thanks!

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