Top Tips: Looking after trees

Trees on your land are your responsibility.

  1. Take a look around once in a while to check that the trees remain healthy and aren’t causing any obvious risks to neighbours or the public. If you have any doubts, call in a specialist.
  2. In spring and summer, water any newly-planted trees regularly, especially at times of drought.
  3. It’s often best to leave your tree alone but if you must prune it, it’s best to do this when the tree is young. Making smaller cuts when young will cause less damage and can direct future growth, reducing the need for larger cuts when it is bigger.
  4. Too much pruning can stress
  5. trees, shrubs and hedges, particularly when carried out in the growing season.
    Pruning bigger trees requires experts. For your own safety and that of the tree, contact an arborist.
  6. Mulch, leaves and twigs, placed around the base of the tree, will help to condition the soil, retaining water and
    preventing weeds, as well as encouraging the development of a healthy rooting environment.
  7. If you plan to work on any tree that is covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or is in a conservation area, you will need to contact your local council to request permission, or notify them in the case of a conservation area.
    If you notice your trees causing an obstruction, i.e. roots lifting up the pavement, fallen branches, etc, contact an arborist for advice.

Trees are nature’s sponges

Trees and shrubs are thirsty organisms and they have much more of an impact on our surroundings than we might realise.

Once mature, a deciduous tree can transpire large volumes of water. Trees can maintain an open structure in the soil, making it more permeable and less susceptible to water run-off. Trees on flood plains help to provide a buffer for storm water and reduce flooding downstream. In fact, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry met in February to look at how the strategic planting of trees could be used as a defence against flooding. There is also a petition currently before parliament to prioritise the planting of trees as a preventative measure against flooding. The government will respond by June of this year.

The absorption factor can also be a hazard, however. By abstracting moisture from shrinkable soils, trees can contribute to the subsidence of low-rise buildings. And if a tree is removed for whatever reason, shrinkable soils such as clay might rehydrate and, over the course of a few years, make the ground swell and cause ‘heave’, potentially resulting in damage to buildings. For this reason it’s best to identify the characteristics of the local soils before planting trees and large shrubs close to buildings and select the plants accordingly or design the building’s foundations to withstand future soil shrinkage. If you have trees that are causing you concern, get them checked out by a qualified tree specialist.