Just as most problems in landscapes are caused by maintenance gardeners hired to maintain the landscapes, many of the problems with trees are caused by those hired to fix such problems. Arboriculture, which is the horticulture of trees, really should be performed, or at least directed, by professional arborists. It is too specialized to expect it to be done properly by those lacking education and experience.
Even the few proficient gardeners who can perform most aspects of gardening well are not likely as proficient with proper arboriculture as arborists are, not only because it is so different from other gardening, but also because of the techniques and tools involved. Gardeners compare to arborists something like those who clean windows on skyscrapers. Custodians who clean windows on the highest floors from the inside probably would not want to clean the same windows from the outside like window washers do. There are just too many differences in the two related but vastly different types of work.
Arborists who are certified by the International Society of Arboriculture, or ISA certified arborists, are the most qualified to assess the health, stability and structural integrity of trees, and to then prescribe any necessary arboricultural procedures. These arborists have passed an examination of their arboricultural expertise, and maintain their certification by continued involvement with ISA educational seminars, workshops and classes.
Arborists and the tree service businesses that they are affiliated with are easy to find at the website of the ISA at www.isaarbor.com. They can be found directly by name, or regionally by city or ZIP code. The website is also an excellent resource for those wanting to learn more about trees and the importance of proper arboriculture.
Trees are the most substantial features of landscapes, and are really worthy of more respect than they commonly get. Structural problems or instability can be serious problems, not only to the affected trees, but also to anything around them that might be damaged or destroyed by falling limbs or even entire trees. Proper arboriculture helps to keep trees healthy and reasonably safe for many decades or centuries.
Arborists are horticulturists. They just happen to be more specialized than most. Many or most other horticulturists work with flora that they engage from the ground. Arborists work exclusively with trees. Some must leave the ground to do so. The most experienced and educated arborists are those certified by the International Society of Arboriculture or ISA.
ISA certification requires an arborist to pass an examination of arboricultural proficiency. Continued participation with ISA endorsed classes, workshops or seminars is necessary to maintain certification afterward. Arboricultural industries are demanding, with stringent professional standards. Certification with such industries is correspondingly demanding.
General information about the International Society of Arboriculture is available online at isa-arbor.com. This site, although designed for arboricultural professionals, is informative also for those who must procure the services of an arborist. The directory of ISA certified arborists can identify local arborists, as well as the tree services with which they affiliate.
Although arboriculture is pertinent throughout the year, it seems to become more so with the first storms of autumn. Some trees prefer dormant pruning during winter. Others might perform best after summer pruning. Various trees have various preferences. Regardless, the need for arboriculture becomes apparent as weather breaks limbs and uproots trees.
Trees are innately the most substantial and relatively permanent plants in home gardens and landscapes. Unlike annuals and some perennials, trees are not disposable, or easy to remove if they become too problematic. Many eventually get too big for those who are not experienced arborists to engage. That is why too many trees need professional help.
Many municipalities require permits for the removal of significant trees. Inspection by ISA certified arborists, and associated reports, are generally prerequisites for the issuance of these removal permits. Some municipalities are more protective of trees than others. ISA certified arborists try to be familiar with the ordinances of the various municipalities in which they work.