Tree Surgeon's Advice

Tree Surgeon's Advice

Is planning permission needed to remove an oak? Is a tree too big for my garden? What can I do with a fast growing beech? Is it time to give up on my frost damaged hedges? We ask a professional tree care specialist for advice on a range of tree care issues.

Reader Question: I have a large mature oak in my front garden, but it's blocking light. Do I need planning permission to remove it?

Ordinarily you don't need planning permission to remove a tree on your own property unless you live within a special area of conservation or the tree in question is listed as part of a protection order under a previous planning permission application. The list of sac's can be found on the Department of the Environment website and any planning permission protection orders can be found with your local planning department.

Having said that, depending on certain criteria you may need to apply for a felling licence to remove a tree. A full explanation is given here.

As an alternative you could consider having a crown thinning carried out. This would entail removing certain sections of the tree , allowing more light through the canopy whilst still preserving a grand old tree for many years to come.

Reader Question: I have a large cherry blossom in my small back garden. This year and last year, it's started to look slightly sick i.e leaves are always slightly wrinkled and dry looking. I think it might be too big for garden, or could there be some other problem?

There are a host of reasons why your tree could be showing such symptoms e.g. pests, lack of water, root compaction, fungal infection, blossom wilt, damage to the trees bark, overzealous pruning, overspray from weedkiller to name but a few. We would suggest a site visit by a qualified tree surgeon who would assess the symptoms and advise a course of action to bring the tree back to its former glory. It may only need pruning and a follow up feed of bonemeal but it would be necessary to assess the tree on site in it's surroundings to give a true diagnosis.

Reader Question: We have have a large beech tree in back garden. I like it, but it grows fast and maintenance is expensive for me. I am considering chopping it down. Is there any other alternatives?

Besides having the tree totally removed and planting a more maneageable tree in its stead there are other methods we would suggest.

Beech trees by their nature are highly sensitive to intervention so in essence have to be treated respectfully.

Crown reduction - this is where a maximum of 30% of leaf volume is removed. This reduces the windsail effect.any more than 30% can cause adverse effects such as reducing the trees ability to build up energy reserves to see it through its dormant period of autumn and winter.

Crown thinning - this is where selected stems and branches are removed improving air and light penetration but still retaining the trees natural shape. However it is worth noting that on a beech tree or any tree for that matter epicormic growth will appear. This is where the tree once it has had any major branches removed tries to remedy this by sending out new shoots further back in its canopy. This growth can sometimes appear unsightly but is merely a trees attempts at recovering its foliage in order to survive.

Crown raising - this is simply reducing the lower branches of a tree where they are too low blocking light penetration or are a hazard .

Either way with any of the above remedial treatments a tree as grand as a beech will only try and recover to what it always was. If a client isn't willing or cannot afford yearly or two yearly visits then, as a last resort the tree should be removed and something more manageable planted in its place

Reader Question: Our evergreen hedge was badly damaged in 2010 frost. There are some signs of recovery, but it still looks 90% dead. Is it time to give up and dig it up?

If the hedge is a coniferous hedge ie leylandii or cypress then best advice is to remove. These hedges seldom regenerate from brown wood only. We would suggest replanting with a more manageable evergreen that will still give good cover eg laurel would like to thank for their helpful advice and tips for this article.