Tree Care Terminology: A Brief Guide for Homeowners

The licensed arborists at Starwood Tree Service field numerous questions from local homeowners and business owners about tree care terminology. Is a tree’s canopy the same as its crown? Is pruning the same as trimming, and do they involve branches, limbs, stems, or shoots?

As Girard’s tree removal service, we know the lingo. Our tree care professionals have decades of combined experience in planting and maintaining hundreds of species of trees. Below, we share everything you need to know about words, phrases, and tree classes across Ohio.

Common Words and Phrases Arborists Use

The following words and phrases come up often in the world of tree care:


When people think of tree care professionals, they usually imagine loggers or gardeners climbing ladders and hacking away at stray branches. However, arboriculture covers a much broader range of technical expertise, including tasks like dealing with new pests, relocating mature trees without killing them, or remediating seismic damage to trunks, branches, and crowns.

Arborists also require a license from the International Society of Arboriculture, which requires years of training, testing, and professional supervision. They know how to solve all types of tree problems. They also safely use climbing gear, telescopic saws, and bucket trucks to help property owners with maintenance and landscaping design goals.

“Canopy or Crown”

Crown is the term an arborist uses for the upper leafy section of a tree. Whenever trees can not cycle sufficient nutrients and moisture from their leaves to their roots, their crown withers and balds. Professionals determine the width and height of tree crowns by measuring from the lowest and leftmost branches to the highest and rightmost ones.

However, the tree’s canopy may consist of many crowns. The record for the most massive canopy worldwide belongs to the banyan tree. However, a Thimmamma Marrimanu’s crown competes with its crown typically exceeding 25,000 square meters in one of the driest locations in India.

“Shirt Raise”

A shirt-raise prune removes the lower branches and leaves of trees to make the surrounding areas passable by vehicles and pedestrians. It’s good for the tree when executed correctly.

“Stump Grinding”

The process of stump grinding eliminates leftover or dead tree stumps. The point is to keep fungal and insect infestations at bay.

Other Important Phrases When Considering Professional Tree Services

Tree Topping

If you want an arborist to frown, mention tree topping. This destructive practice removes large branches and leaves on mature trees beyond the healthy trim allowance. It kills most tree classes outright.

The tree care community considers tree topping obsolete, but fringe contractors in the Midwest may still offer it for commercial and residential customers that believe it makes trees easier to maintain and prepares them for storms. Most other professionals achieve this with pruning.

Tree Trimming vs. Tree Pruning

As two of the most commonly used terms in tree care terminology, most people confuse tree trimming and pruning.

  • Tree trimming removes twigs, leaves, and limbs for aerodynamic purposes and weather resistance. It also allows sunlight into the crown to nourish life-supporting branches.
  • Tree pruning strategically eliminates dead limbs and branches to promote faster growth and recovery. Arborists offer this service on the maintenance schedule, alongside mulching, shaping, and thinning.

Is Semantics Going To Change The Tree Service You Receive? Maybe

Experts in tree trimming, pest elimination, and stump removal will know how to keep your landscape healthy and well-manicured, regardless of whether you know the industry jargon. However, it may help to understand some of the terms before signing a contract for multi-step maintenance or insect-removal procedures.

Contact Our Licensed Arborist in Girard, OH, Today!

Learn how to choose the right tree removal service or refine your tree care terminology—call Starwood Tree Service at (330) 231-5022 today.

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