Tree Surgery, Tree Felling, Tree Pruning, Tree Surgery Equipment
Left alone, most trees normally develop into a well-proportioned shape which is characteristic of the particular species. However, in certain circumstances it may be desirable to modify their shape or size by pruning. A tree growing in a confined space, for example, may become unbalanced. One which is close to a house may have to be restricted to prevent structural damage and to let in more light.
There are several other reasons for tree pruning — for instance, it is necessary to tidy up broken branches after a storm to restore the tree’s attractive appearance and to prevent fungal diseases taking a hold in the wounds.
On shallow, rocky soils tall trees may become unstable and need to be kept in check. Trees which have been planted too close together often look better if they are thinned out as they mature, either by felling some of them or by removing a few selected branches from each.
Some gardeners also like to encourage artificial growth habits in their trees — a form of topiary on a large scale — perhaps to make an otherwise rather ordinary tree into a real eye-catcher, or to establish a very formal atmosphere in the garden.
A mature tree won’t be harmed by the sudden loss of an individual limb and the tree’s energy will be diverted to branches elsewhere. If a branch has to come off for whatever reason — it may simply be growing at an awkward angle — don’t be afraid of removing it. However, the important thing is to cut it right back to the point where it joins the trunk and not to leave a stump which will later die off and encourage disease.
Legal Requirements for Tree Surgery
Before attempting any tree pruning or tree felling — regardless of whether they are on private property — check with your local authority that a Tree Preservation Order is not imposed on them. Also ensure that you are not in a registered conservation area. In both cases, there are strict restrictions on tree surgery and written notice and authorization must be exchanged between yourself and the appropriate authority before work commences. Always seek advice — there are heavy penalties for illegal tree surgery.
Tree Surgery Equipment – The Correct Tools
The branches and trunks of living trees consist of wood and bark, the density and hardness of which varies from species to species. Even when trees are dormant in winter, this wood is relatively moist and has different physical properties from the dried timber used in carpentry.
For this reason, carpentry saws are not suitable for living tree surgery of any kind — their teeth are too fine and close-set and soon get clogged with damp sawdust, making for unnecessarily strenuous work.
Small branches can be trimmed with secateurs, but anything thicker than a finger should be cut with long-handled loppers, a pruning saw or a bow saw.
If you are experienced in their use, chain saws can provide a much quicker and less laborious solution to tree pruning and tree felling, but they are far too dangerous for use by a casual, inexperienced gardener. In fact, no garden tree is too large to be dealt with using hand tools alone.
To gain access to the upper branches of a large tree you will need a sturdy ladder. For safety, tie the top of the ladder to the tree with rope before starting work. Get someone to stand on the bottom rung of the ladder until you have secured the top.
Aluminium alloy ladders are lighter to carry around the garden, and those with serrated rungs provide extra protection against slipping if you are wearing muddy shoes or boots.
Look out for overhead electricity supply or telephone cables when manoeuvring a ladder around a tree, especially if the ladder is made of metal.