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What is an Arborist?

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Tree Services in Toronto » Certified Arborist » What is an Arborist?

What is an Arborist?

You know those gorgeous, leafy trees that make your neighborhood look so inviting? The ones that provide cool shade on hot summer days and make the air feel just a little bit fresher? Well, it turns out there’s a whole group of people dedicated to keeping those trees healthy and thriving – they’re called arborists, and they’re basically the superheroes of the tree world.

Think of professional arborists as the ultimate tree doctors. They’ve got the knowledge and skills to diagnose and treat any ailment your trees might face. But what makes an arborist so special, and why should you care about them? Stick around, and I’ll give you the lowdown on these tree-loving experts and how they can help keep your green friends thriving.

What Is an Arborist?

You’ve probably heard the term arborist thrown around, but what exactly does it mean? Simply put, an arborist is a certified professional who specializes in the care and maintenance of trees, shrubs, and other woody plants.

Think of arborists as the guardians of your trees’ health. With their extensive knowledge and unwavering commitment to tree well-being, they’re like skilled surgeons for your leafy companions, ensuring they stay vibrant and strong.

Table of Contents:

Definition of an Arborist

Tree surgeons, also known as arborists or arboriculturists, are the go-to experts for all things related to woody plants. They’ve got the knowledge and skills to study, manage, cultivate, and care for trees and shrubs like nobody’s business.

Certified arborists are the tree care services pros you can count on. They know their stuff when it comes to planting, pruning, and keeping trees disease-free, so you can enjoy a lush, safe landscape for ages.

Qualifications and Certifications

Aspiring certified arborists must jump through a few hoops before earning their title. The gold standard is the ISA Certified Arborist credential, awarded by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). It’s a badge of honor in the tree care world.

To earn this certification, arborists must have at least three years of full-time practical experience in arboriculture and pass a comprehensive exam covering all aspects of tree care. They must also maintain their certification through continuing education.

Services Provided by Arborists

Whether you need routine maintenance or emergency care, certified arborists deliver a broad spectrum of tree care services to ensure your trees thrive.

Whether you need help with a single tree in your backyard or managing an entire urban forest, certified arborists have the expertise to get the job done right.

The Role of an Arborist in Tree Care

If you want your trees to look their best and live long, healthy lives, you need an arborist on your side. These tree care experts can spot problems before they become serious and develop personalized plans to keep your trees in top shape.

Assessing Tree Health

One of the primary responsibilities of an arborist is to assess the health and condition of trees. They use their knowledge of tree biology and physiology to identify signs of stress, disease, or damage.

Arborists are the ultimate tree care professionals. They’ve got the skills and tools to detect even the sneakiest signs of trouble, like internal decay that’s invisible to the untrained eye. By spotting problems early, they can help you avoid more serious (and expensive) issues later on.

Certified toronto arborist providing free quote for tree service in toronto to client, in a backyard. Female homeowner speaks to arborist during a consultation in a backyard under a silver maple tree

Developing Tree Care Plans

Based on their assessment, arborists develop customized tree care plans to address any issues and promote overall tree health. These plans may include recommendations for pruning, fertilization, pest control, or other treatments.

Arborists are tree whisperers, guiding you to pick the perfect sapling and nestle it in just the right spot. They know the secrets to help your leafy friend reach for the sky and live a long, healthy life.

Implementing Best Practices

Arborists are trained in the latest tree care practices and techniques. They use this knowledge to provide the highest level of care for trees, while also prioritizing safety for people and property.

From proper pruning cuts to safe tree removal methods, arborists follow industry standards and best practices to ensure the best possible outcomes for trees and their surroundings.

Working with Tree Care Companies

Tree care companies, often owned or staffed by certified arborists, provide a wide range of services to keep the trees on your property healthy and beautiful. From residential homes to bustling city streets, these skilled professionals have the expertise to tackle any tree-related challenge that comes their way.

When working with a tree care company, you can trust that the work will be performed by knowledgeable professionals who prioritize the health and safety of your trees and property.

An arborist cleaning up brush from a tree care job with a chipper and truck

Arborist Specializations and Services

Arborists offer a wide range of specialized services to meet the diverse needs of trees and their owners. From planting and pruning to removal and emergency care, there’s an arborist service for every situation.

Tree Planting and Transplanting

Proper tree planting and transplanting techniques are essential for ensuring the long-term health and survival of trees. Arborists have the knowledge and skills to select the right tree species for a given location, prepare the planting site, and use proper planting methods to give trees the best possible start.

They can also assist with transplanting mature trees, using specialized equipment and techniques to minimize stress and ensure successful establishment in a new location.

Tree Pruning and Trimming

Picture a tree in your yard – now imagine it with dead, broken, or sickly branches. Not a pretty sight, right? That’s where pruning techniques come in. Arborists are like tree doctors, carefully removing the unhealthy parts to help the tree thrive and look its best.

They also have the equipment and expertise to safely prune large trees or those in difficult-to-reach locations, such as near power lines or buildings.

Tree Removal

When a tree poses a risk to people or property, is sick, or needs to go for other reasons, it’s time to call in the pros. Trained arborists have the skills and gear to take down trees of any size while keeping damage to a minimum.

From stump grinding to cleanup, they’ve got you covered. Say goodbye to unsightly stumps and hello to a tidy outdoor space.

Tree removal in toronto - willow tree cut in rounds on grass

Emergency Tree Care

Storms, accidents, and other unexpected events can cause significant damage to trees, creating hazardous situations that require immediate attention. Arborists provide emergency tree care services to assess damage, remove broken or hanging branches, and stabilize trees to prevent further damage.

They work quickly and efficiently to mitigate risks and ensure public safety in the aftermath of tree-related emergencies.

Plant Health Care

In addition to caring for trees, many arborists also offer plant health care services for shrubs and other woody plants. This includes monitoring for pests and diseases, providing proper nutrition and watering, and implementing integrated pest management strategies to promote overall plant health.

Arborists who take a proactive stance on plant health care can stop problems in their tracks, keeping landscapes vibrant and beautiful.

Arborist Certifications and Professional Development

Becoming a certified arborist is a journey of lifelong learning. From the moment you start your education and training, you’re committing to staying on the cutting edge of tree care research and techniques. It’s a field that’s always evolving, and the most successful arborists are the ones who never stop growing and adapting along with it.

ISA Certification

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) offers the most widely recognized certification program for arborists. To become an ISA Certified Arborist, individuals must have a certain amount of experience and/or education in arboriculture and pass a comprehensive exam covering all aspects of tree care.

ISA certification demonstrates a high level of knowledge and professionalism and is often required for employment with reputable tree care companies.

Continuing Education

ISA Certified Arborists are dedicated to staying on top of their game. Every three years, they hit the books and earn continuing education units (CEUs) to keep their certification current. This way, they’re always in the know about the latest tree care research, techniques, and best practices.

Continuing education opportunities include workshops, conferences, online courses, and other training programs offered by the ISA and other organizations.

Continuing education for toronto arborists and tree professionals - courses

Gaining Practical Experience

Book smarts are important, but nothing beats real-world experience when it comes to becoming a top-notch arborist. Internships, apprenticeships, and entry-level positions with tree care companies offer aspiring arborists the chance to get their hands dirty and learn the ropes.

On-the-job training and mentorship from experienced arborists can provide valuable hands-on learning opportunities and help individuals advance in their careers.

Career Paths for Arborists

Arborists can pursue a variety of career paths within the tree care industry. Some may specialize in specific areas, such as utility line clearance, municipal tree management, or consulting.

Arborists who have put in the time and effort to gain experience and advanced certifications can reach for higher positions in the field. They might lead crews, represent the company in sales, or even manage the entire operation. With the increasing demand for skilled arborists, career growth and advancement opportunities are sprouting up everywhere.

The Importance of Hiring a Certified Arborist

Your trees deserve the best, and that’s exactly what you get when you hire a certified arborist. These skilled professionals have the know-how to keep your trees healthy, strong, and looking their best. From pruning and planting to disease management and risk assessment, a certified arborist has you covered.

Ensuring Proper Tree Care

Want your trees to live long and prosper? Call in the certified arborists. These skilled professionals are armed with the latest techniques and equipment to keep your trees healthy and happy. They’ll plant, prune, and manage diseases like nobody’s business. And when it’s time to say goodbye to a tree, they’ll handle the removal with utmost care and attention to safety.

By hiring a certified arborist, you can trust that your trees are in good hands and will receive the best possible care.

Minimizing Property Damage

Trees that are not properly maintained can pose a significant risk to nearby structures, utilities, and landscaping. Certified arborists are trained to identify potential hazards and take steps to mitigate them, such as pruning weak or overhanging branches.

Dead, dying, or dangerous trees are no match for their skills and gear – they’ll get them out of there before any harm is done.

Getting Professional Advice

Certified arborists are like tree doctors, offering expert advice on everything from selecting the right species for your property to identifying and treating common issues. They consider factors such as soil type, climate, and available space to help you make the best decisions for your trees.

By working with a certified arborist, you can develop a comprehensive tree care plan that meets your specific needs and goals.

Obtaining Free Estimates

Free estimates from certified arborists take the guesswork out of tree care services. You’ll receive a comprehensive assessment of your trees’ needs, a transparent breakdown of costs, and a clear picture of the results you can expect – all at no initial charge.

Obtaining multiple estimates from certified arborists can help you compare options and ensure that you are getting the best value for your investment in tree care.

Arborist Tools and Techniques

Arborists use a variety of specialized tools and techniques to safely and effectively care for trees. From climbing gear to stump grinders, these tools allow arborists to access hard-to-reach areas, remove damaged or diseased wood, and promote healthy tree growth.

Climbing and Rigging

Arborists often need to climb trees to perform pruning, removal, or other maintenance tasks. They use ropes, harnesses, and other climbing gear to safely ascend and descend trees, while also using rigging techniques to lower branches and debris to the ground.

To keep everyone safe and prevent property damage, arborists must use the right climbing and rigging techniques when working on trees.

Aerial Lifts

For taller trees or those with difficult access points, arborists may use aerial lifts to reach the upper canopy. These lifts, such as bucket trucks or cranes, provide a stable platform for arborists to work from, allowing them to perform pruning, removal, or other tasks more efficiently and safely.

Arborists who operate aerial lifts must have specialized training and certification to ensure proper use and safety protocols are followed.

Stump Grinding

After a tree has been removed, the remaining stump can be unsightly and may pose a tripping hazard or obstacle for future landscaping. Arborists use stump grinding equipment to remove the stump, chipping it into small pieces that can be used as mulch or disposed of safely.

If you want to tackle stump grinding, be prepared to invest in proper training and gain hands-on experience to ensure the job is done right and without any accidents.

Pest and Disease Management

Arborists are like tree doctors, armed with the knowledge and tools to keep our leafy friends healthy. They can spot pests and diseases from a mile away, and they’ve got a whole bag of tricks to fight back – from precise pruning to targeted treatments that take care of the problem without harming the tree.

Keeping trees healthy and free from pests and diseases isn’t easy – it takes a deep understanding of how trees work and the complex ecosystems they live in. Arborists also have to constantly educate themselves on the most current integrated pest management techniques and scientific findings.

Tree Risk Assessment

Arborists use specialized tools and techniques to assess the risk posed by trees to people and property. This may involve visual inspections, decay detection devices, or other diagnostic tools to identify potential hazards, such as weak branches, cavities, or structural defects.

Based on their assessment, arborists can recommend appropriate treatments to keep your tree and property safe.


So, there you have it – the inside scoop on what an arborist is and why they’re the ultimate tree care gurus. These passionate professionals are dedicated to keeping our trees healthy, safe, and looking their best.

Arborists are the unsung heroes of tree care, armed with the expertise to plant, prune, diagnose, and assess risks. They’re the go-to professionals when your trees need a little TLC or a lot of saving.

The next time you’re admiring the trees in your yard or around town, remember the hardworking arborists who make it all possible. And if you ever need a tree care specialist, you know exactly who to call – your friendly neighborhood arborist!

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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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.
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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!

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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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