Here are some some common tree surgery questions we receive. If you cannot find the information you are looking for please do call us on call us on (01327) 354789 or get in touch online.
When is the best time of year to have work done to my trees and hedges?
It is recommended that trees are worked on after leaf fall and before bud burst. This however is not true for all species so we would prefer to look at each tree individually and give you a written report. Some examples of trees requiring work at other times are Cherry, Plum and related trees (Prunus species) these should be pruned soon after flowering to reduce the risk of bacterial infection.
Maple and Birch should not be pruned in the spring to avoid ‘bleeding’ (exuding sap), which although not considered damaging can be unsightly. Magnolia and Walnut should only be pruned in high summer. Most common species of hedges can be cut any time of the year but again we would confirm this after inspection.
Are my trees protected?
Trees may be protected in a number of ways. Within a Conservation Area, initial protection is afforded to all types of tree which have a stem diameter (measured at 1.5 m above the ground) greater than 7.5cm. Consent is not required from your Local Planning Authority (LPA), but 6 weeks written notification of intended works must be provided.
Tree Preservation Orders (TPO’s) provide a high level of protection for selected trees and woodlands or named types of trees within groups or given areas. Written consent is required from the LPA before carrying out any works and this normally takes around 8 weeks.
Trees on development sites or near recently built houses, may be protected by virtue of conditions attached to Planning Permissions. These may require the consent of the LPA before carrying out works.
Carrying out work to trees because they have become dead, dying or dangerous may not require permission – if you are concerned please give us a call.
The foliage on my tree is becoming more sparse – is this a problem?
Sparse foliage or dieback from the tips is always a sign to be concerned about. Trees rely on their leaves to convert energy from the sun, so if the tree is cutting back on its leaf production, there could be something seriously wrong.
There is a very close relationship between the size of a tree’s canopy and the size and condition of its roots. Signs of ill health in the canopy may thus be the first indication that there is a problem occurring underground. Recent disturbance to soil levels, compaction from parked cars or a well used thoroughfare, waterlogged soils or even gas leaks may all cause root damage and consequently exhibit symptoms in the canopy.
Equally dieback, particularly in mature trees, can indicate the presence of decay fungi, although a thorough investigation would be necessary to confirm this.
My tree has unsightly ‘wound’ on a branch – what should I do?
These are called cankers which is a general term used to describe a number of different diseases that cause unsightly wounds on the stems and branches of trees, usually as the result of fungal or bacterial infection. Cankers are rarely life-threatening, but can cause death of branches if the damaged tissue completely encircles a branch. Equally, deep cankers will weaken the stem or branch and can predispose the tree to damage by the wind. Some fungal cankers can be treated with fungicides.
Can I prune back a neighbours branches / roots?
Generally common law provides a ‘right’ for a landowner to cut back trespassing branches or roots from a neighbour’s tree. The individual scenario must be reviewed to ensure that this view of Common Law applies and it should be noted that action under this law brings with it conditions that must be adhered to.
One issue that frequently arises is that the extent and positioning of pruning allowed under this ‘right’, frequently does not compare with modern tree pruning recommendations and if taken to the letter of the law, may result in a disfigured and possibly a dangerous tree. Acting in this way may not protect you should damage or loss occur.
If your trees are protected, then the Consent of the Planning Authority (but not the tree owner) will be required.
How can I tell if my tree is hazardous?
It is a property owner’s responsibility to provide for the safety of trees on his or her property. Common defects associated with tree ailments should be identified. Assessment of the defects is essential and should be done by qualified arborists. Once a tree is recognized as being dangerous, we can supply a written report recommending the necessary work and care for the tree. Insurance companies are increasingly refusing to pay out for damage caused by trees that have not had a recent survey. Policies should be checked to ascertain the exact requirements
Some common defects associated with trees are:
- Cavities or decayed wood along the trunk or in major branches
- Mushrooms present at the base of the tree
- Cracks or splits in the trunk or at the union where branches attach
- Adjacent or nearby trees fallen over or dead
- Trunk developing a strong lean
- Roots broken off, injured or damaged
- Electrical line adjacent to tree
- Recent construction in the area
Do mature trees need special care?
A healthy tree increases in aesthetic value with age. Regular maintenance, designed to promote plant health and vigour, ensures their value will continue to grow. Preventing a problem costs less than curing one once it has developed.
Regular tree inspections can prevent or reduce the severity of future disease, insect and environmental problems. Our qualified arborist will examine leaves or buds, leaf size, appearance, twig growth, and note the condition of the trunk and crown. Crown dieback (gradual death of the upper part of the tree) and trunk decay are often symptoms of problems that began earlier. They can be remedied with skilful tree surgery.
My tree casts shadow over my house and garden, what can I do about it?
Depending upon what species of tree it is, a number of operations can be used to reduce shadow and light blocking. In general and dependant upon species it would be best not to formally reduce the crown (or leafing area) of the tree drastically. The removal of crown growth in most case promotes fast re-growth and an unnecessary draw on the tree’s reserves. This can lead to stress growth and the first signs of disease or decay intervention. Certain limbs can be pruned and in some cases a formal crown reduction can be used.
However a combination of tip reducing key limbs, thinning the crown of the tree (i.e. reducing density of the leafing area) and removing limbs completely (crown lifting) will lead to a similar result in getting more light into the garden or house and reducing the number of operations a tree surgeon has to carry out. In the long term this will lead to a reduced management cost for you and a longer life for your tree. Sometimes, because of the location of the tree, reducing the tree’s size is the only option, but let us explain the options to you first on site.
I am concerned the roots of my tree may be affecting my foundations?
It is possible that, dependant upon tree type, location and the soil type, trees can affect soil structure and foundations. The only way to gather a comprehensive picture of the exact problem is to call us in and we can either make recommendations ourselves or refer the site to a consultant specialising in this field. Test pits may have to be dug and further analysis of data made before making an accurate and insurable decision. This can prove to be a confusing procedure for clients, but left with us we can take the responsibility on board with confidence.
I want to prune my tree. When is the right time to do this?
It is mainly dependant upon species but the majority can be pruned at most times of the year. There are a few exceptions such as walnut trees which should only be pruned in full leaf and certain maples can be sensitive to pruning in the spring.
Purists may say that summer (or when a tree is in full leaf) is the best time to prune the tree. As then tree has the chance to recover from the pruning and to seal off the cuts and adjust to its changed structure whilst still growing and storing nutrients. For an expert opinion call us at Allen Groundcare.
How can I increase the safety of my tree?
A good start is to remove any dead wood within the crown of a tree and / or do some “formative pruning” of the tree which removes crossing and rubbing branches and identifies an area of limb or trunk weakness. Tree inspections / decay reports can also be undertaken with a view to creating a planned management programme for the tree. This is the only fully insurable way of offering you peace of mind.
How can I make my leylandii hedge smaller and more manageable?
Usually height control is not main problem for leylandii but width correction depending on the age of the tree.
Leylandii cannot be cut back past a green point on the limb as this will result in “browning”. Ideally we would need to view the trees to see if this would be an issue for your trees and give you the best advice in terms making the hedge more manageable. Main options tend to be either controlling it or removing it and replanting. We regularly carry out routine trimming of these trees and hedges and get a manageable hedge that is still a lush, effective screen but does require continual pruning.