Arboriculture I

Course CodeBHT106
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Gain skills and knowledge to diagnose and treat tree disorders

This is the perfect course for people wishing to gain a foundation knowledge of tree care and maintenance, whether for enhancing a garden maintenance service as an introduction to working in tree services.  

Broaden your skillset

A course suitable for:

  • People working in tree care or tree management
  • People wanting to work with trees
  • People wanting to start an arboricultural business
  • Expanding a gardening service or landscape business

This course develops your skills and understanding in diagnosis and treatment of tree disorders, whether pests, diseases, nutritional or water problems, or something else. You learn about the standard tree surgery practices, to prune and train both young and established trees, and safety measures to follow.

  • Learn to deal with pest, diseases, nutritional deficiences, water problems effectively.
  • Save money with correct identification of tree disorder
  • Improve your safety with correct tree surgery practices
  • Increase produce with correct pruning and training procedures

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction To Arboriculture
    • Trees in the Garden
    • Planting in the Wrong place
    • Plant Selection
    • How to plant a tree
    • Planting Bare Rooted trees
    • Planting Advanced trees
    • Helping a Tree to get established
    • How to Transplant a Tree
    • Using Tree Guards
    • Undertaking a Tree Inspection and Completing a Report
  2. Tree Biology
    • Tree Growth
    • Photosynthesis
    • Respiration
    • Transpiration
    • Vernilisation
    • Process of autumn foliage colour change
    • Tree Physiology; roots, stems, leabes, reproductive parts
    • How a tree grows
    • Secondary Growth
    • Growth Rings
    • Heartwood and Sapwood
    • Compartmentalisation; how a tree rots
    • Water and Plant Growth
    • Rate of Photosynthesis
    • Rate of Respiration
    • Environmental Factors Affecting Transpiration
    • Terminology
  3. Soils In Relation To Trees
    • Soil and Tree Growth
    • Fertilizing Trees
    • Compacted Soils
    • Tree Health and Drainage
    • Treating Soil over Winter
    • Changing Soil Levels around Trees
    • Practical Tests; measuring soil characteristics
    • Soils in relation to Trees
    • Nutrition
    • Managing ph
    • Fertilizers
  4. Diagnosing Tree Problems
    • Tree Disorders and Health
    • Frost Protection
    • Minimizing Wind Damage
    • Affects of mulch and watering on frost
    • Misletoe
    • Dealing with Problems
    • Diagnosing Tree Health Problems
    • Difficult to Diagnose Problems
    • Environmental Problems
    • Types of Disease: Blights, Canker, Galls, Leaf Spot, Mildew, Rots, Rust, Sooty Mould, Wilt etc
    • Types of Pests; Aphis, Beetles, Borerts, Bugs, Caterpillars, Leafhoppers, Mites, Nematodes, Termites, Thrip, Wasp, etc.
  5. Tree Surgery
    • Is Tree Surgery Needed
    • Types of Surgery; cavity treatment, rods, cables etc
    • Tree Surgery Safety; for workers, for public
    • Cavity Treatments
    • Bracing and Cabling
    • Propping
    • Treating Bark Wounds
    • Removing Large Branches
    • Climbing Techniques
    • Preparing to Climb, How to Climb, Anchoring Point
    • Knots
  6. Pruning Of Trees
    • Introduction
    • Branch Removal Method
    • Crown Cleaning, Thinning
    • Crown Reduction
    • Crown Lifting
    • Pruning Objectives
    • Fruit Tree Pruning
    • Removving Trees
    • Felling a Whole Tree
    • Felling in Sections
    • Terminology
  7. Arboricultural Equipment
    • Introduction
    • Secateurs
    • Hand Saws
    • Power Tools, Safety with Electricity
    • Engine Troubleshooting; Dirty Spark Plugs
    • Tool Maintenance
    • Deciding what to Buy
    • Chain Saws
    • Hedge Trimmers
    • Climbing Equipment; ladder, harness, rope, belt, spurs, etc
  8. Workplace Health and Safety
    • Duty of Care
    • Workplace Safety
    • Lifting and Manual Handling
    • Protective Equipment; personal protection, gloves, eyewear, hearing protection, skin Protection, knee protection, etc
    • Handling Tools and Machinery Safely
    • Safe Chain Saw Handling
    • Tool Maintenance
    • Auditing Tools

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Describe measures to provide healthy trees in different situations, including appropriate plant selection.
  • Explain tree biology, including morphology, anatomy and physiology, as it relates to arboriculture.
  • Develop procedures to manage soils for improved tree growth.
  • Develop procedures for managing health disorders with trees, including environmental, pest and disease problems.
  • Determine surgical techniques commonly used in arboriculture to repair damage to plants
  • Explain tree surgery techniques commonly used in arboriculture to prune growth.
  • Determine appropriate equipment for arboricultural practice.
  • Determine appropriate workplace health and safety practices for an arboricultural workplace.

What You Will Do

  • Distinguish between plants in order to identify at many different trees.
  • Develop a standard tree report form, customised for surveying the condition and use of trees in your locality.
  • Explain how to treat three specified soil related problems that can effect trees.
  • Develop a twelve month program, for managing a health problem detected by you in an established tree.
  • Demonstrate bridge grafting across a bark wound.
  • Distinguish between different methods of pruning including:
    • Canopy reduction
    • Cleaning out
    • Topiary
    • Espaliering
  • Determine the minimum equipment required to commence business as a tree surgeon.
  • Compare different chainsaws, to determine appropriate applications for each.
  • Determine legislation which is relevant to a specific arborist in a workplace which you visit.


An extensive knowledge of the types of equipment used by the professional arborist is essential to run a successful business. This includes personal protection equipment as well as that designed for specialised tree maintenance.

Costs involved in the purchase of this equipment can range from inexpensive items such as pruners to large capital outlay for a mulcher and stump grinder, so before starting a business in this field it is important to research the type of equipment available as well as the expected financial outlay.

The essentials for any tree work, even a very small job, will be a good pair of secateurs and a hand saw.

These are hand‑held cutting implements which cut when the handles are squeezed, and spring open when released. There are two main types:

  • Scissor cut ‑ where the cutting action is achieved by two blades shearing past each other. The scissor cut is clean and doesn't bruise the plant provided the tool is kept in condition.
  • Anvil cut ‑ where a sharp blade comes straight down on a flat (anvil) surface. This type generally cuts more easily than the scissor type but can bruise or tear if the blade is not kept very sharp.

How to Cut
All cuts should be made at a sharp angle in relation to the ground plane. This prevents water from collecting on the cut surface, thus reducing the likelihood of disease problems. Where possible, cuts should be made just above a node (where the leaves and/or flower stems are, or have been, attached to the plant stem). This reduces the likelihood of die-back along the stem. It is also important to only cut material that is not too thick for the secateurs (ideally no more than 1‑1.5 cm depending on the secateurs), otherwise you will find the cutting to be a strain on both the secateurs and yourself, and the final cut is likely to be rough, torn or uneven. For larger branches use long‑handled pruners, which are similar to heavy duty secateurs with handles usually 45‑60 cm long, or a pruning saw. When using anvil secateurs - always cut down onto the anvil.

Maintenance of Secateurs

  • Regularly oil moving parts, such as the spring.
  • Wipe any parts susceptible to rusting (such as the blade) with an oily rag.
  • Sharpen the cutting blade regularly with a sharpening stone:
    • on anvil types the blade should be sharpened on both sides.
    • on scissor cut types, the blade should only ever be sharpened on one side (ie. the outer edge - the side which is furthest away from the other blade when a cut is made).

Hand Saws
Pruning saws ‑ These generally have teeth designed to cut moist living timber; the teeth being generally larger than those on saws used for cutting furniture or construction timber. There are two types of pruning saws:

  • Straight blade which allows variation in the type of cut according to the type and size of the material being cut.
  • Curved blade with teeth on one side. This curved saw is generally used by the experts because the curved blade allows access to restricted areas such as near closely interlocking branches.
  • Bow saws ‑These are, as the name implies, bow shaped. These saws are light weight, easy to use, have replaceable blades, and coarse teeth which provide a fast cut when the blades are in good condition. This type of saw is popular for pruning branches that are too thick for the light pruning saws.
  • Carpenters saws ‑There is great variation in the types of saws used in carpentry work. Generally they have finer teeth compared to the pruning and bow saws and these are generally set to give a narrower cut. This is because they are mainly used for cutting processed timber (ie. dried, milled, heat pressed and treated, etc) where a narrower, finer cut, in comparison to pruning cuts, is required. These saws are predominantly straight‑edged with teeth only on one edge of the saw.

Simple Rules When Using Hand Saws

  • Always keep the saw sharp. This makes cutting easier and gives a cleaner cut.
  • Make sure you are only cutting timber. This applies particularly when cutting second hand timber which may contain old nails etc, and cutting in situations where the saw may come into contact with soils, gravels or other materials that are likely to damage the saws cutting edge.
  • Always store the saws in a safe place and keep them clean. The saws may be readily damaged if dropped or banged against other materials. They will quickly rust if allowed to stay moist. Incorrectly stored saws may also be a safety risk, particularly if you have children and animals.
  • Use the right saw for the job at hand. This will make the task easier for you and produce a better quality job.


Power tools are essential when working with trees; without them, work would be inefficient and, in today’s world, unprofitable. Power equipment does, however, bring risks and other potential problems (e.g. breakdowns) along with the benefits.



This course provides valuable information for people who wish to work in roles such as:

  • Horticulturist
  • Gardener
  • Tree surgeon
  • Arborist
  • Labourer for tree care team
  • Farmer

It will also be of value to anyone involved with care and maintenance of trees or who wants to add tree pruning and care to their skillset e.g. for a garden maintenance or landscape business.

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