ARBORISTS AND LAWN CARE SPECIALISTS

Two specialized career fields have developed quite recently compared to other fields in ornamental horticulture.

Arborists

Arborists are tree maintenance specialists. Their services include insect and disease control, trimming, fertilizing, cabling, cavity treatment, woodlot thinning, and tree and stump removal (Figure 18-3). Some would dispute their classification as an occupation of ornamental horti­culture, preferring the term urban forestry. Indisputably, arborists work with trees of all types: forest trees, street trees, lawn trees, ornamental trees, and fruit trees. It is vigorous outdoor work and potentially dan­gerous. The use of power tools, the climbing involved, the possibility of unexpected weak limbs, and the difficulty of seeing power lines all call for care and skill.

Training is available through university programs in ornamental horticulture, forestry, or both. There is some conflict over which aca­demic discipline has the closest affinity to the profession. Interested individuals should take a discerning look at the curriculum offerings of the college they are considering, not the program titles, to determine the quality and suitability of the training. College-level programs are offered at the two – and four-year levels. Laborer positions are available for nongraduates.

The industry is becoming increasingly professional in its methods and its expectations. This is due in part to the efforts of the National Arborist Association and its state chapters and the International Society of Arboriculture. Frequent local, national, and international meetings, in addition to newsletters and audio-visual programs keep the indus-

figure is-з. Careful use of ropes permits this arborist to remove a dead tree next to a busy street with minimal danger or disturbance to passing people or traffic. Tree removal is only one of the many tasks performed by professional arborists. (© Randy Mirmontez, 2009. Used under license from Shutterstock. com)

try’s professionals abreast of new techniques. An attempt to certify all arborists nationwide is now underway, confirming the profession’s commitment to both education and skill development.

Lawn Care Specialists

Lawn care specialists are concerned with the maintenance of turfgrass installations, both residential and commercial. Clients contract for their services, which include a full season of insect and disease control, fertil­ization, grassy and broadleaf weed control, aeration, and, in small firms, may also include installation and mowing.

If there is a genuine American horticulture success story, it is the lawn care industry. Essentially, it created itself in 1969 when a novice company began convincing homeowners and commercial firms that it could maintain lawns better than the clients could and at an afford­able price. That first year, annual sales totaled $218 thousand. By 1979, annual sales for the same firm were nearly $87 million. Inspired by the

figure 18-4. A lawn care specialist applies a mixture of herbicide and fertilizer as part of a scheduled maintenance program. (© 2009 iStockphoto. com/Marcel Pelletier)

success of the industry leader, which now operates nationwide, smaller operations have sprung up in every metropolitan area and expanded the industry still further (Figures 18-4 and 18-5).

The services are primarily chemical application services. Lawn care specialists have a route of customers who are all to receive a particular treatment program. Each day the specialist will mix a tank truck full of the fertilizer or pesticide to be applied and make the rounds. Lawn care specialists may also be responsible for preparing bids to acquire new customers. During the off-season, the repair of trucks, sprayers, and other equipment and attendance at trade shows and short courses ensure that the specialist stays current in the field and is ready to begin again when the growing season resumes.

figure 18-5. Both small and large lawn maintenance businesses have been successful in urban and suburban areas. (Delmar/Cengage Learning)

If the career has a limitation, it is the very long hours required dur­ing the spring, summer, and fall. A route may include several hundred customers, each property requiring four to six treatments each season. Generally, off-season hours are shorter, and vacations are taken then.

Preparation for the position of lawn care specialist should include at least a two-year college education since the hiring trend is definitely in that direction. Majors in ornamental horticulture, turfgrass manage­ment, or agronomy can all provide the background needed for success­ful placement in the field. Additional training or personal skills in power equipment care and maintenance can prove helpful, as will good com­munication skills. Special operator’s licenses may be needed for some equipment, and pesticide applicator certification is also required.