Here are some frequently asked questions about tree maintenance

Why do trees need pruning?

There are many reasons for pruning trees. Pruning will make trees more safe, increase vigor and health, and will make it more beautiful. Value-added benefits of pruning includes stimulating fruit production and increase the value of timber.

  • Pruning for safety Remove branches that could fall and cause injury or property damage, trim branches that interfere with lines of sight on streets or driveways, and remove branches that grow into utility lines. Safety pruning can be largely avoided by carefully choosing species that will not grow beyond the space available to them, and have strength and form characteristics that are suited to the site.
  • Pruning for health This involves removing diseased or insect-infested wood, thinning the crown to increase airflow which will reduce some pest problems, and removing crossing and rubbing branches. Pruning can best be used to encourage trees to develop a strong structure and reduce the likelihood of damage during severe weather. Removing broken or damaged limbs encourage wound closure.
  • Pruning for aesthetics Pruning can enhance the natural form and character of trees and stimulates flower production. Pruning for form can be especially important on open grown trees that do very little self-pruning.

What is the disease that is affecting ash trees?

Chalara dieback of ash is a serious disease of ash trees caused by the fungus Chalara Fraxinea. The disease causes leaf loss and crown dieback in affected trees and it can lead to tree death.

Currently the advice is that mature trees should not be removed, as they are valuable to wildlife, take longer to die and can help us learn more about genetic strains that might be resistant to the disease. Infection does not occur directly from tree to tree.

  • How does the disease spread? The disease can be spread from spores from the fungi attached to leaves and leaf litter, spores can also be spread by wind and rain. Recommendations for management are stipulated by the Forestry Commission and DEFRA (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs).
  • What can I do to help? The latest advice from the Forestry Commission is to ensure that the disease is not spread to other areas by ensuring that when leaving parks and woodlands and before visiting other places that mud and leaves from footwear, pushchairs, bikes, cars, dogs and horses is removed and that leaves and branches are not removed from the woodland or park.
  • Are there any reported confirmed cases within Southwark? As of the 12 November there has been no verified infection of Chalara in greater London or Southwark, However outbreaks have been found in counties around the capital.
  • What should I do if I suspect that a tree may be infected? If you suspect a tree may be infected, please report the sighting to the Tree Team at your local authority and they will investigate.

Any tips for choosing a tree surgeon?

  • When making an appointment with a Tree Surgeon, inform them if you require advice regarding trees or if you already have a specification and need an estimated or fixed cost quotation.
  • Identify if your trees are in a conservation area or if there are any tree protection orders (TPO’s) on your trees.
  • Consider obtaining more than one quotation or estimate. This will allow you to compare prices and choose the right company for your particular job. Remember that price may not be the governing factor.
  • Estimates or quotations will normally be provided free of charge, but you should be aware that there may be a fee charged if advisory work is involved.
  • Indicate when you would like the work to be carried out. The contractor will be able to advise you if this is going to be practical.
  • Do not leave it too long before accepting an estimate or quotation. If possible, let the contractor know your decision within 7 to 10 days, and make clear the terms of acceptance.