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What's Better? Residential or Line Clearance Tree Work? - Bartlett Arborist Supply

What's Better? Residential or Line Clearance Tree Work? - Bartlett Arborist Supply

Line clearance versus residential arborist. Who’s better?!

These are the two titans of the tree care industry, and I always hear workers from these industries going back and forth on who is the real deal. What sets them apart? I’ll be keeping it real with you guys and telling it from my perspective. I have worked in both sectors and find both to be interesting, but I must admit my background is primarily as a residential arborist so I may have some biases. I'll tell you about the things I've noticed, but remember this is only my opinion.

In my opinion, residential tree work is way more fun than doing line clearance. Don't freak out on me! I also have to admit that residential work can be truly back-breaking at times. So why would I prefer it?

Taking down large trees is much less common in line clearance, and I love falling trees! It’s like an unquenchable thirst for me. The biggest thing I miss doing every day and love doing the most…Crown Cleans. That was my favorite part of residential tree work. Flying through the crown, going up, down and side to side! Beautifying and working towards the health of the tree, that’s what made me love my arborist career.

Not everyone in residential likes to prune over removals. Even on the hardest projects when you're working all downhills, carrying heavy logs to quarter and you're ready to cuss out the salesman who bid the job--it feels super good and accomplished once the job is done!

Shrub day is its own animal! I don’t know about you, but I detested shrub day. From fine pruning with Corona Hand Pruners to standing on an orchard ladder, all while heaving extension shears makes my arms tingle, and not in a good way! Even though I strongly disliked shaping shrubs, I couldn’t help but feel like Van Gogh once the job was done! In other words, residential tree work was very fulfilling.

Now to discuss line clearance work, otherwise known as the “dark side!" (I tease.) I can say from experience, line clearance trimming can be extremely unpopular with homeowners, and I can understand why. Hell, on my first day working Line Clearance, a homeowner legit tried to cut the tree down while I was IN it! Talk about a warm welcome.

To be completely honest with you, I used to look at line clearance trimming as butchering the tree. I’ll probably catch a lot of heat for that, but why lie?. Now that I also work in line clearance, I can sincerely say it can be very challenging as well as a rewarding arborist job! 

Think about this for a minute; tree climbing already poses its hazards and by throwing power lines into the mix, well now it's perfect for adrenaline junkies! (Like me.)

Rigging can be tricky at times, with having to pull hang from above three-phase wires without touching at all. You have to get creative just like residential arborists. This makes for setting up complex rigging systems that make the job super fun! I mean come on, who doesn’t like playing with ropes and pulleys?!!? I’m a tree lifer, what can I say? Something that you have to get used to doing a lot of, is cutting with a handsaw. I found the Silky Zubat Arborist Edition to be my go-to! It’s a good combo between having aggressive teeth while maintaining that classic Zubat size. Although a Silky Tsurugi has also been on my favorites list due to its slim profile and giving me the ability to make a nice finish cut.


The truth to these two titans, both present their own challenges and each requires specific knowledge and set of skills to complete the task at hand. I have nothing but appreciation and respect for these two industries. A lot of that respect has to do with the people that I have come across and for their mentorship. I would not be where I am today if it hadn’t been for them. With that being said, I would like to thank all that have helped me during my arborist career and continue to help me! Climb safe!

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