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Arboriculture: What Is It & How Does It Work?

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

If you've ever talked to a professional arborist before, you've probably heard them use the word 'arboriculture'. You may be wondering, "What is arboriculture?" To learn all about the field of arboriculture and what it involves, just keep reading.

The Definition of Arboriculture

Arboriculture, by definition, means “the practice and study of the care of trees and other woody plants in the landscape.” A person who practices arboriculture is known as an arborist. The arboriculture industry itself is a division of forestry. The main difference between arborists and foresters is that arboriculture focuses more on the care of individual trees and other woody plants, and not a whole population, like a forest or stand of trees. While a forester cares for and manages large tracts of trees and may not be interested in the health or structure of one individual tree in that forest, an arborist cares for one tree at a time. Unlike foresters, arborists often work in residential yards and urban properties.

How Arboriculture Works

Arboriculture is important for the care of trees in urban and suburban environments. Trees that grow in yards and within communities have special needs that differ from those in a forest. For example, if a tree fails in a forest and falls, it is unlikely to harm anyone or cause property damage, but if a tree falls near a home, it can cause a lot of damage and injuries. Therefore, it is important that the trees within our communities and yards be cared for by arborists.

When trees grow in yards and along roads, they are in different habitats than what is found in a forest. The soils are different and often not as fertile or well suited for trees. Light and wind affect the tree differently. There is less room for the roots to grow and, usually, the trees do not grow with the same structure as they would in the woods.

Those differences result in a lot more stress to the trees than in forests. Insects and diseases can attack and spread easier than in a forest ecosystem. The trees also have to compete with lawns. There is also the stress from the extra heat from roads and roofs, lack of water, and damages to the tree from lawn mowers, weed whips, or excessive pruning. Trees are resilient, but one too many stresses can kill them.

Arboriculture also refers to the work done on individual trees. Specific pruning types, specialized removal techniques, planting, and even tree health care are all aspects that an arborist must learn and incorporate into a tree’s care. There are standards, developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), that relate specifically to all the aspects of arboriculture. Arborists certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) are required as part of their certification to follow and adhere to the best of their ability to the ANSI's A300 standards as well as maintain continuing education each year.

Are You in Need of an Arborist's Help?

Caring for trees is a delicate and scientific process which is best handled by a trained and licensed arborist. If you want to make sure the trees in your yard are healthy and don't pose any risks, you should hire an arborist to come out to your property and inspect them. Contact Aspen Arboriculture Solutions today if you'd like to work with a consulting arborist in the Sioux Falls area or the greater Midwest!

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