They don’t call England a ‘green and pleasant land’ for nothing – we love our countryside and what little of it we have at home, the trees, shrubs, bushes and hedges in our gardens, we tend to be very proud of as well. But let’s face it, maintenance can cost a small fortune in time and money, so we thought we’d let you in on a little industry secret – four of them in fact – on how you can save a small fortune on your tree care costs, starting from today.
The tree, the tree surgeon and the unfortunate truth…
As arborists and tree surgeons, we tend to have an intimate relationship with trees. Yes, we do hug them occasionally, but only in a professional capacity! We recognise more than simply their seasons, we understand their ‘moods’ – the way they interact with the environment they’re in and the way they respond to the tree care that’s performed on them.
Therefore, despite quite genuine concerns you may have about the costs involved, to not look after them properly could eventually result in a far greater expense. Nobody wants the eyesore of a dead or dying tree in their garden or to suffer the financial burden of its removal, if they could instead be enjoying their trees for years to come.
So, here are our top four tips for saving you hundreds of pounds on your tree maintenance:
- Prune Regularly
Different species of trees need to be pruned at different times of the year, but regularly and carefully is the general advice. For deciduous trees (the ones that mess up your garden each autumn when their fallen leaves become a fabulous hiding place for your kids or something to spend hours kick around), pruning is almost always best done in the autumn and winter, though not too late in the winter, as some trees can ‘bleed’ sap which can weaken them and may lead to pests and disease causing problems. Some deciduous species can handle small amounts of pruning in the summer months when it’s easier to see the dead branches from the live ones, and this is when it’s also best to prune your evergreens.
Pruning is a precision craft. It may look odd to see men hanging from trees on ropes taking a saw to your beloved birch, but it takes years of training and experience to recognise the issues, to know the solutions, and to execute them with the required accuracy.
Over-pruning can result in haphazard epicormic or uncontrollable regrowth spurts as the tree looks to compensate for the loss, under-pruning can mean dead or diseased branches going unchecked and problems spreading, and poorly executed pruning can hinder recovery times and increase the risk of disease (just like an open wound for you or me). All of which are likely be very costly issues for a professional to later resolve.
- Prune for more than just the aesthetics
A common mistake we see is where trees have been pruned from the bottom up. This is often done for aesthetical reasons, to make a tree look shapely and pristine, but for some trees this would be a mistake. For instance, if you want your lovely apple tree to give you the best crop of delicious fruit every year you shouldn’t cut off all the branches you can reach. To do so might mean you’ll be left under the tree, arms crossed, staring up at those scrumptious looking apples right up top where you can’t get to them…
So, before you shape your tree, first determine what type of tree you are looking to grow and what is its purpose. Is this tree to harvest fruit from, or perhaps to block your view of nosey neighbours? Don’t forget, if in doubt you can always call your friendly neighbourhood arborist for some advice on tree care.
- Give them room to flourish
A tree planted too close to a neighbour’s fence, a house, or other structure, may require more work than normal to keep its foliage and roots under control. So, to avoid the additional expense of crown reduction and more regular pruning choose a less controversial location for your tree.
Soil PH is another locational issue, as too much acidity or alkalinity can impact on the health of your tree. We test the soil thoroughly before advising customers where their trees might be best located. If you are having trouble growing a tree that requires a more neutral PH soil it could be that the soil is slightly too acidic for that species.
Finally, consider what you are going to plant and its maintenance requirements before you dive into planting. Some species will require additional work, while others may not thrive in the environment you have available for them.
All of the above can impact on your maintenance costs. But what if you have inherited trees in poor locations? Then it’s time to call in the arborist as they will be able to tell you what to do to keep your costs down and your neighbours happy.
- There’s no substitute for experience
Let me say, before this comes across as a rant against DIY tree surgery, it’s not – I’m all for homeowners showing their trees a little maintenance love, and we’re always happy to give our clients guidance. But, just like you wouldn’t want your doctor to perform a complex medical procedure on you after spending five minutes reading the ‘Idiots Guide to Open Heart Surgery’, it pays to ask for help before you don your hard hat and rev up your chainsaw because you could do more costly harm than good. And that goes double for amateurs purporting to be professional tree surgeons (we’ll shortly be writing an article on how to spot an amateur from 20 paces and how to ask them kindly to leave the premises, so watch out for that one).
Pruning a tree incorrectly can have many costly consequences, long and short term. Take off too much incorrectly and you’ll end up with uncontrollable regrowth that will require even more pruning next time to contain the size. Poor pruning wounds can be fatal to your tree’s health, so please remember, if in doubt, just seek some friendly professional advice from your local trusted arborists.
For more information on how you can save on your tree care, give us a call on 0208 292 8992. We’re always happy to pop round or to help with a little advice.