Pruning or cutting down trees is dangerous work which requires the proper equipment, expertise and, where appropriate, tree felling licensing. Poor practice can damage the health and appearance of a tree and in worst case scenario endanger staff or the public. For this reason, it’s important to get professional advice, no matter how simple the work may seem. Tree surgeons and arborists (who tend to be associated more with the ongoing care and development of trees) can quickly assess what needs to be done, manage the associated risks, plan the work effectively and carry it out with correct training and safe use of specialist equipment.
It may not be obvious, however, that a tree is in need of professional attention – much of the work done by arborists is preventative work carried out on normal healthy trees.
Here then, are five reasons why you may need to call in a tree surgeon.
1. Encouraging healthy growth
As mentioned, it’s common to call in a tree surgeon to deal with healthy trees as well as with unhealthy trees. Much of a tree surgeon’s work is ensuring that the healthy trees stay healthy. Trees don’t always grow in the way that’s best, whether for themselves, for the owner or for the surroundings. By pruning trees and removing troublesome branches, tree surgeons can encourage healthy development and stable growth and prevent future problems. On occasion it might be desirable for the tree to be shaped or pruned in a particular way, to allow more light to reach a building or garden, or to ensure that it doesn’t block a path or pavement. Sometimes branches cross or rub, causing weakness and unstable growth. In all of these cases a tree surgeon or arborist will have the requisite skills to achieve the desired result.
2. Planting trees
Tree surgeons and arborists are responsible for maintaining healthy trees and their work will sometimes include cultivating new trees. It takes an expert understanding of the environmental factors and the saplings being planted to understand how many trees a given plot of land can support. Trees require space, light and nutrition, so the kind of soil and the surroundings will determine what kind of tree should be planted and how many. If the planting is taking place in a forested area, or even a nursery, then existing trees and their root systems need to be considered. In a more urban area, then factors such as drainage pipes, paving stones and other underground items need to be understood, as do existing buildings, roads and power lines.
3. Ensuring public safety
A tree that is damaged or diseased can become a danger to traffic, buildings or passers-by. In these cases it’s important to refer to a tree surgeon to undertake a risk assessment and determine how the tree or offending branches should be dealt with. If the tree is not of significant danger to the public (such as those in unpopulated forests or woods) it can often be left to die, as dead trees are an important wildlife habitat. The same is true of damaged trees. The extent of the damage needs to be assessed by an expert, who will then decide whether the tree needs treatment or removal. Felling old and unstable trees is often about weighing up the risks to the public with a conservationist imperative. Sometimes alternative measures can be taken to preserve the tree, such as support cabling or sectioning off dangerous areas underneath it to protect the public.
4. The tree is hampering the growth of nearby trees
Damaged, diseased or dead trees sometimes need to be removed to ensure the health of the other trees around them. If the tree is a large mature tree, and it has fallen or become lopsided due to damage or disease, then it will need to be removed for the sake of the healthy trees surrounding it. Trees need light, space and circulating air, as well as soil and water to grow properly, so removing a tree which is damaged or dying can give healthy trees enough room and air to grow. An expert tree surgeon can determine whether or not a tree needs to be removed or pruned, for the sake of other trees.
5. Limiting spread of tree disease
Tree diseases, such as Dutch Elm Disease, Ash Dieback, or Phony Peach Disease, can have a devastating effect on our countryside. In the late 1960s, Dutch Elm disease spread throughout Britain, destroying most of the country’s mature elm trees – as many as 30 million of them. Although we now have many young elm trees, we have very few mature elms, and all the trees are still vulnerable to disease. In order to prevent epidemics like this occurring, conservationists and arborists work together to ensure the health of our trees, to prevent the spread of disease and to plant and grow trees from healthy saplings here in the UK, rather than importing trees which might be infected.
About the Author: Paul George is the managing director of Landmark Trading Ltd, the UK’s leading supplier of tree surgeon equipment, tree surgery and tree climbing equipment. You can connect with Paul on Twitter on @LandmarkTrading or check out their Facebook page.