Arborist or Tree Surgeon – Who do I need for my tree work?

An arborist or tree surgeon? Knowing who to call for tree removal or maintenance services can be difficult. 

Although both are qualified to work on trees, an arborist can provide legal advice, determine the tree’s safety, and carry a higher responsibility.

A simple way to differentiate between tree surgeons and arborists is that surgeons know where to cut a tree, and arborists know why.

We have compiled a list of the main characteristics and services that arborists and tree surgeons can offer and how they differ, as well as some helpful advice on choosing who takes the best care of your trees.

What is the difference between an Arborist and a Tree Surgeon?


  • Have strong biological knowledge of trees, tree pests and diseases.
  • Can improve the trees’ health using modern arboricultural techniques.
  • Can collate and write detailed reports, such as Arboricultural Impact Assessments.
  • Can consult and recommend work on trees alongside professional tree inspections. 
  • Can assist with commercial work, such as assessing trees concerning planning regulations and permissions.
  • Have the expertise and knowledge of environmental problems and conservation.

Arborists must obtain specific credentials through dedicated arborist studies. These qualifications may extend up to a Master’s level. These credentials are particularly crucial for trees close to buildings, highways, and high-risk areas such as public spaces, schools, playgrounds, and commercial premises, as the health and safety of the trees and the environment nearby must be considered. 

Completing a tree safety report allows an arborist to determine the risk of human injury and mitigate that risk by producing a list of work recommendations and a timeframe for completion.

Planning permissions often require an Arboricultural Impact Assessment (AIA). The local planning authority (LPA) requires this for new builds, highway extensions, and similar jobs to understand the impact of new construction projects on trees. 

Tree Surgeons: 

  • They are well versed in the relevant health and safety regulations to protect themselves, their customers, and the general public when cutting or felling trees. 
  • They provide a comprehensive Risk Assessment and Method Statement (RAMS) for all tree care and felling works.
  • Their services include tree felling, pruning, crown reductions, stump removal/grinding, planting, and hedge trimming.
  • While they are qualified to advise on general tree maintenance, they cannot guarantee the overall safety of your tree.
  • Tree surgeons do not require a degree but should have certifications to prove their skills. Ask for proof, as they won’t be insured without it.
  • These qualifications give tree surgeons the knowledge to conduct emergency and remedial works to ensure areas are safe from dangerous trees. 

Although they have fewer required qualifications than arborists, tree surgeons are still qualified to maintain trees and safely remove them.

Who should I call? A Tree Surgeon or an Arborist?

It ultimately depends on the type of arboricultural work you need. If you require services such as surveys, reports, and recommendations for tree care or safety advice, consult an arborist. They can provide a work schedule for tree surgeons to follow and complete.

A tree surgeon should be able to help with general maintenance and have the tools and expertise to follow up on arborist recommendations. 

There are some occasions where you should choose which skill set is preferred for a job. For example, if you are worried that your tree may have a disease, look for an arborist to diagnose and treat the problem. A tree surgeon should be more than equipped for a simpler removal.

Please note: If you’re looking for comparative quotations, select other ArbAc-qualified Arborists, as this is the only way you will get true comparative quotations. 

Those who don’t follow The Arboricultural Association’s guidance will lack knowledge, standards, and safety protocols, which will be reflected in their quotation price. Cheaper isn’t always best and can lead to more costs down the line to rectify problems caused by substandard, non-approved contractors. 

Our team at Dr. Stump is fully qualified to perform the duties of a tree surgeon. Additionally, our team has a certified Arborist who can provide further advice as needed. Once we clearly understand your requirements, we can quickly guide you in the right direction.

Simply get a quick quote today by messaging us via WhatsApp

man up tree

Responded quickly and provided good value estimate. Agreed dates for work and both jobs (tree removed and hedge reduced) done as agreed, efficiently and professionally. Will be recommending to others.

Paul Gilbert

Really good company, very reliable, came and removed quite a few stumps from our woodland very quickly and efficiently, and careful about not doing damage to the surrounding area. Highly recommended, we will use them again.

Jane Polden

I would recommend this company to anyone they have just taken 7 large poplar trees down for us. Arrived as arranged, a pleasure to have in our garden for several days, then left the site neat and tidy.

Mia Potter

A great company and excellent service, they were brilliant from quote to completion and would definitely use again!

Nathan Modlin

Very impressed with Dr Stump; quick, professional, courteous, tidy and VERY good at what they do! – Very impressed with the way they work and the amount they can get done in a short time. – Highly recommended.

Paul Hallatt

Make an Enquiry