If you consider yourself to be adventurous with a love for the natural world, the idea of an office job may not appeal to you – this is where a career as a tree surgeon may be the perfect route to consider. From spending your working day in the great outdoors to playing a pivotal role in nursing trees back to good health, it’s no surprise that tree surgery remains a popular profession.
Having spent more than 30 years as tree surgeons in Milton Keynes, we are, of course, strong ambassadors of this rewarding career path. In this article, we’re going to run through the skills, qualities and training required to begin your journey, ultimately answering the question, what is a tree surgeon?
What Is A Tree Surgeon? A Comprehensive Guide
A tree surgeon is a specialised professional trained in caring for trees and their surroundings. They expertly handle overgrowth and hazardous areas and address rot and tree health issues. Tree surgery requires a wealth of knowledge and expertise in tree biology and the cutting-edge equipment used to tackle the job.
With this in mind, whether you’re considering a career in the sector or are unsure how a tree surgeon can help you, our guide will run through the following:
A tree surgeon, also known as an arborist or tree care professional, is a skilled individual who specialises in the care, maintenance, and management of trees. Their primary focus is on the health and safety of trees in both urban and natural environments.
Tree surgeons undergo training and gain expertise in various aspects of arboriculture, allowing them to perform a wide range of tree-related services. This also includes intense training on the use of specialised equipment, from climbing tools to heavy-duty machinery.
At Neal Landscapes, our tree surgeons in Milton Keynes have been catering to our local community for more than 30 years. We have worked closely with thousands of clients, both residential and commercial, to maintain their trees.
There are many different jobs that a tree surgeon will cover to maintain the safety and quality of the surrounding area; these include:
For our clients who opt for landscape maintenance in Milton Keynes, one of the key components of their package is regular tree surveying. This can also be booked as a one-off service for those who are concerned about the health of a particular tree.
Tree surveying is the process of systematically collecting information about trees within a specific area or location. It not only includes identifying the species and measurements but also assessing the health and safety of the tree. This information is valuable for various purposes, including urban planning, environmental conservation, land development, and tree management.
At Neal Landscapes, we always resort to tree removal as the last option, and our tree surgeons in Milton Keynes work hard to find resolutions that preserve the life of a tree. However, there are instances whereby removal is the only route; for example, the tree is affected by a disease, or it is structurally unsafe.
In this case, trees are carefully removed, starting with trimming the branches before moving on to tree felling (the process of cutting down a tree using a chainsaw). If the tree is too close to a building or other structure, instead of felling, it will be dismantled in sections to prevent any damage.
Once the tree has been removed, it is then our client’s choice whether to keep to remove the stump; we will go into this common tree surgeon task in more detail below. From here, the site is cleaned to ensure it is left safe and aesthetically pleasing.
Stump grinding is a process used to remove tree stumps from the ground after a tree has been cut down. When a tree is felled, its remaining stump can be an eyesore, obstacle, or even a hazard in the landscape. Stump grinding offers an efficient and effective way to get rid of these stumps.
The process typically involves using a specialised stump grinder which features a rotating cutting wheel designed to grind down the stump into wood chips. These wood chips are then used to fill the hole left behind, leaving the ground ready for replanting or other planting activities.
Aerial work refers to the practice of working on trees at height, either using tree climbing techniques or specialised equipment such as cherry pickers or aerial lifts. It allows tree surgeons to access the upper parts of the tree safely to perform tasks such as crown thinning, pruning or tree bracing.
Much like any role that involves working at height, aerial work requires intense training to ensure the safety of both the tree surgeon and the tree itself. Industry standards and safety guidelines must always be followed to minimise risks and provide efficient tree care.
Much like the crown of your head, the crown of a tree is the foliage on top. The term crown work, also known as crown management or crown pruning, involves the selective removal of certain branches, leaves and stems. It can be used for several reasons, for example:
- To enhance the appearance of the tree, improve its shape, or promote a more balanced and pleasing canopy.
- To remove dead, diseased, or damaged branches, which can help the tree recover and reduce the risk of further disease spread or damage.
- To allow more sunlight to reach the lower parts of the tree or the surrounding area, benefiting understory plants and encouraging overall ecosystem health.
- To provide adequate clearance for buildings, vehicles, roads, or other structures near the tree.
Tree planting refers to planting new trees in various locations, such as residential areas, public spaces, parks, forests, or any other assigned areas. Usually, before any work is carried out, a professional tree surgeon will conduct a site survey to determine which species are the best fit for the habitat.
When planting is ready to begin, the site is first cleared of any vegetation that may prohibit the trees from growing. Holes are dug, and trees are planted and ensured to be stable and secure. The tree surgeon will then carry out any backfilling, mulching, watering and other maintenance that is needed on the trees in the area.
Tree planting is a vital aspect of the care of the environment and environmental conservation. It can contribute to air quality, better habitats for wildlife and enhance aesthetic value.
Tree Disease Management
Tree disease management refers to the specific tasks and responsibilities related to preventing, diagnosing, and treating diseases that affect trees. The key aspects of tree disease management in a tree surgeon job include:
- Inspection and Diagnosis: As a tree surgeon, you will regularly inspect trees to identify signs of disease, for example, wilting, lesions and abnormal growth patterns. From here, they can diagnose specific diseases affecting them.
- Preventative Strategies: These measures will maintain the overall health and vitality of the trees. The tree surgeon will implement practices such as mulching, pruning and fertilisation.
- Treatment: After diagnosing the tree, the surgeon will then determine the appropriate treatment options, such as chemical treatments, to control the spread of the disease. In some cases, the tree will need to be removed.
- Record and Research: After the tree has been treated, the tree surgeon can move on to recording the details of the tree inspection and treatment.
Tree Support Systems
Tree support systems refer to various essential tools and techniques used to provide structural support to trees that may be weak, damaged, or at risk of failure. Improperly installed support systems can cause further harm to trees and may even lead to irreversible damage.
These support systems are designed to help stabilise trees and reduce the risk of potential hazards, such as a branch or stem failure, particularly in urban environments where trees may be exposed to additional stresses from human activity and environmental factors.
Some common tree support systems that a tree surgeon may use include cabling and bracing, guying (which stabilises newly planted trees), propping (which is for leaning trees) and root crown excavation (which is for support when there is a problem with the roots).
If you are thinking of becoming a tree surgeon, there are some qualities you may initially need to have to deliver the utmost service and care when carrying out tasks; these include:
- Physical skills such as movement and coordination
- Be punctual
- Be able to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- Be able to work well with colleagues and others
- Be flexible and adaptable
- Knowledge of public health and safety
- Ability to use machines and tools
- Ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- Be comfortable working at heights
If you carry out dangerous tasks such as using chainsaws and other hazardous materials you will need a Certificate of Competence. You will also need a driving licence to travel to further out jobs.
Afterwards, you can move on to fully becoming a certified and qualified tree surgeon. There are many different ways to become a tree surgeon, for example, by enrolling on an apprenticeship, university course or college course.
For a University degree, you will need a foundation degree, a higher national diploma or a degree. A foundation degree is one or two A levels or equivalent, and a higher national diploma or degree is two or three A levels or their equivalent. Some courses at University that will help you to become a tree surgeon are forestry, arboriculture, forest management, woodland ecology and conservation and countryside management.
For a college course, you will be required to have level 2 and 3 courses. Level 2 is two or more GCSE grades at 9 to 3 (A* to D) or equivalent, and level 3 is four or five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or their equivalent. Some example NPTC courses you may want to partake in are Level 2 Certificate in Arboriculture, Level 2 Work-based Trees and Timber, Level 2 Felling and Processing Trees and Level 3 Diploma in Forestry and Arboriculture. Lantra also has some equivalent courses!
Lastly, an apprenticeship you may want to take to become a tree surgeon will require some GCSES which usually include English, Science and Maths.
Some tree surgeons also find it useful to have training in the following:
- First aid
- Pesticides (PA1 & PA6)
- Hiab training
- Mobile elevated working platform certification
- Health and safety training
- Towing licence
Becoming A Tree Surgeon
Now that you know all about being a tree surgeon, you should feel comfortable and knowledgeable about the job. Make sure to contact us for any further information that you may require, our team of qualified tree surgeons in Milton Keynes are always happy to answer any questions you have!