Arboriculture

Tree Care at Home and as a Profession

Anyone tending his or her own trees and woody shrubs at home or elsewhere is practicing arboriculture. Arboriculture is the study, management and cultivation of (sometimes single) trees, woody perennial plants, shrubs and vines. Arboriculture is both a practical skill and a science.  Someone who practices arboriculture has to master the various techniques associated with it. Skills associated with Arboriculture include planting and removal of trees, ‘shaping and pruning’, control of pathogens and pests, fertilisation, and ‘training’. In arboriculture Tree ‘training’ means shaping trees and woody plants into different structures and shapes. In scientific terms arboriculture examines how the plants respond to cultivation and the locations in which they are planted. Those skilled in the practice of arboriculture are sometimes called ‘Tree Surgeons’. Practical arboriculture for the most part revolves around trees and woody plants maintained for aesthetic purposes in parks and gardens so modern arboriculture professionals need to focus on things like legal issues and risks associated with trees and their maintenance in certain locations.

KCS Advice will be available on a wide range of arboriculture related issues in the coming months and years and we will be pleased to hear from anyone who has any tree related enquiries. We’ll be offering articles on a variety of tree maintenance issues and providing advice on the right choice of trees in any setting.

Arboriculture at Home

Double staking young trees

Double staking young trees

If you have a suitable garden taking up arboriculture, even on a small scale is invariably a good thing as long as you can cope with the physical demands, but the extent of those demands depends largely upon the type of trees you decide to plant. Trees absorb air pollution and carbon dioxide. So arboriculture helps reduce global warming. A benefit more relevant to any individual household however is thatarboriculture in your own garden can make a significant difference to the immediate air quality and living environment. Trees remove harmful particulates such as exhaust solids from the atmosphere. So arboriculture is a partial solution to asthma and other problems associated with respiration. Trees keep us cool in the summer, keep us warmer in the winter, absorb noise pollution, and the rustle of leaves delivers the pleasant background natural sound which we like and which masks the noises we find unpleasant. Arboriculture is a cure for some of our ills. Some studies have shown that people in hospital get better more quickly if they have a tree outside their window. Trees make us feel less anxious, and the presence of trees has a beneficial psychological effect on us. We consciously and sub-consciously see trees as a connection with the past so they make us feel more in touch with our environment and the cycle of life. So some of us suffering the effects of stress might do better calling for the services of an arboriculture practitioner than a General Practitioner.

Trees need a lot of watering in the first two to five years of their lives. Arboriculture without a ready supply of water is impossible. Savings in water use are obtainable by watering the trees in the dark so that none of the water evaporates. But if you have a water meter arboriculture can turn out more expensive than it need be, so try rainwater and/or condensate harvesting as explained in our articles on the subject.

Mulching around trees

Mulching around trees

Arboriculture also involves ‘mulching’ and a great deal of weed clearance especially in the early years of the tree’s life. By removing the weeds from below the trees there will be less competition for water and nutrients and the mulch keeps the soil moist and prevents weed re-growth. If you find that you may not have much time to attend to newly planted trees, confine your arboriculture projects to the smallest, youngest saplings. A ‘whip’ for example, (‘whip’ in arboriculture terms is a sapling with a girth of less than 6 cm) will need less watering and be able to establish itself more quickly than a larger tree bought from a nursery. Trees bought from a nursery have had their roots cropped so their root systems will be disproportionately small compared with a tree grown from seed. So arboriculture with such a traumatised tree (and tree roots can in fact suffer from shock), requires more watering until the tree becomes established. And arboriculture using a, ‘bare rooted’ tree, from a nursery requires even more attention. ‘Bare rooted’ trees are ones that are sold without any soil in which they are rooted. They lose the fine fibrous water absorbing roots during lifting and during transport and need time to re-establish themselves. Arboriculture with a tree that arrives in its own pot with its roots virtually undisturbed is easier. And better still buy from an arboriculture supplier which supplies the tree in its own easily biodegradable pot/wrapper which can be planted along with the tree or at worst a wrapper which can be peeled off.

Apart from water another essential to successful arboriculture of saplings is mulching. 6 month old wood chip is typical of the mulch which works best in domestic arboriculture. New mulch will leach nitrogen from the soil. Mulch is placed in a three feet wide & six inch deep donut shape around the tree but not touching it. And the next arboriculture must is firm staking. Staking has to be sufficiently firm to prevent movement of the tree’s roots.

KCS advice will be available in future articles to assist DIY arboriculture hopefuls in watering, mulching and staking but in the meantime we would be happy to answer any specific queries.

Arboriculture as a Profession

Make sure you have the correct safety equipment

Make sure you have the correct safety equipment

Arboriculture is an expanding industry and requires people who can rise to the technical and specialised skills required. But there is something for everyone in a career in arboriculture. The technical and scientific side of arboriculture is there for the more academically minded but the practical skill orientated and physical side of arboriculture is available for those more interested in that side of the work. Arboriculture in the form of tree surgery is physically demanding and even requires training in the use of climbing equipment. The Arboriculture Industry has a number of associations promising to maintain high quality standards. The Arboricultural Association was set up in 1964, is now a significant player in Arboriculture Training and describes itself as the world’s leading authority on arboriculture. Arboriculture Training courses across a wide range of arboriculture disciplines are available and the Association assists in directing the public towards approved tree surgeons for domestic works. But the Association’s focus is in providing advice to the arboriculture industry itself. KCS advice is focussed towards the public.

Arboriculture however is a challenging and rewarding profession for anyone interested in trees. Courses are available which specialise in the science and practice of arboriculture in locations covering both rural and urban and the best arboriculture training providers run residential courses where the practical skills can be learned on actual living trees. Specialist arboriculture industry equipment, maintenance workshops and laboratory facilities should also be available. The arboriculture and forestry professions are closely involved in the amenity and to the leisure service where most of the lucrative arboriculture contracts are to be found for those seeking to create a viable business