Seeking advice on doing some tree surgery for amatuer interest

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  • Hello,

    I am looking to do bits of tree maintenance in my local surburban area. I have been making gypsy pegs and this would a great way to get more branches for my peg making empire.

    So I started out with the idea that if a tree has branches touching then it would be good to remove one of them. (Is that always true?) I have found a few such trees and am awaiting the end of the festive season to then attempt to get permission to do that work from council/housing association.

    I realise that there are other times to take out branches to make a tree more ventilated - I have one tree that might benefit from such work (and it does seem to have lots of yummy peg suitable branches). There are pictures of that tree here . Does anyone know what the right approach is to this tree?

    Also if I prune a tree in someone's front garden are there any potential issues from council types? The owner said the council planted the tree to replace an apple tree that was mouldy - don't know if that makes a difference.

    thanks peeps

  • That big tree would be one helluva lot of work to put back into classic shape.

    But if you are thinking more of taking lower branches off for peg-making, start off by thinking about how to approach the council/association.

    The nearby road is a good start. Emphasise that local people are worried about branches over or near the road. Take those out first, if you get permission. Check they make decent peg wood - not everything does; some wood splits too easy for pegs.

    The council may or may not ask if you have public liability insurance before they give you permission - some can be funny about this, but they do have public safety to worry about. You may also need to tape off the area when working on the tree, wear hard hat and hi-vis overalls, the whole bit.

    If you need more wood for pegs, take out lower crossing branches, and where in doubt, first take out those that are pointing more horizontal than the more vertical ones. (If you see any dead wood, take that out as well if you can, it makes it look like you are doing a better job, although dead wood is generally no good for pegs).

    As regards trees in council gardens; usually the tree, whether planted by the council or not, is or becomes the council's tree. As it is in a tenant's garden, again the public liability insurance issue is likely to come up, and if the tenant also makes clear to the council that they want it pruned back, you are more likely to get permission to work on it. Also be sure to clear all your rubbish - they can fine for littering if you don't!

  • To sort that tree would be a lot of work, mainly due to access, wide base, not a single trunk situation, and loads of little branches in the middle. I was beginning to realise that I was on a hiding to nothing on that one.

    One of the other ones I want to have a crack at is under the councils jurisdiction I believe. In the middle there are two branches in contact - one is the main trunk the other one going up at a steep angle. I would take the second one out and get some peg wood from the bits higher up. No plans for the thicker stuff as yet...

  • If your going to be doing tree surgery and if that involves a chain saw, you have to go on courses and be ticketed and insured to the hilt. Dont think local councils etc will let anyone start trimming trees without some certs and insurance . Even of your just climbing tree's using ladders and hand saws on someone elses property, would be daft doing that without insurance to cover your arse. People love a bit of sue-ing if summat goes a bit awry. and there is proper ways to prune trees to do them good, it isnt hard to damage them if not done properly.

  • Hi where abouts are you you can take all the hazel branches you want from me

  • No chainsaws - just handsaws, a ladder and some ropes for securing ladders and branches.

    I don't want to spend money on insurance and licenses etc. I know it is not how these things go these days but I was hoping to do a bit on the housing association trees and hope they appreciate that I'm doing volunteer work and accept that despite my best efforts I am liable to fuck up sometimes (I see that in terms of damaging a tree not sending a branch through a window - that side of things I should be able to handle)

  • From what I’ve just read. I would politely tell you to leave those trees the fk alone and not to waste your time trying to get the LA/HA to consent. You have very little knowledge about trees, tree mgt and tree species, wood types and wood suitability. Health and safety or correct/exceptable working practices adopted by Local Authorities including training, qualifications, risk assessments and public liability insurance to min £2million to £5 million depending on the Authority and all of which are required from contractors.

    There are hundreds of unmanaged/neglected woodlands/trees that you could possibly practice in/on as boneheaddread suggested, try to contact private owners of woodlands to practice and to source materials.

    Regarding street, village green, highways and park trees. Inc Those overhanging a boundary onto a public space/public right of way/highway belong to the Owner of the property the tree is growing on. Any material (branches) even if breaching that boundary are still the property of the tree owner and limbs/ branches etc, should be returned (if requested) to the property/owner. Also TPO’s Tree Preservation Orders are often placed on specific growing trees of importance. More so trees in places that have a higher value other than a timber value, (Either as individual tree TPO or blanket TPO’s eg aesthetic value, environmental value, ecological value. To damage a tree with high aesthetic value eg. One in a church yard overhanging the pavement outside. Could have a aesthetic value in excess of £20,000. Were the same tree to be growing in the back garden of a private/council house etc, the value may be nonexistent or several £100. Aesthetic value is hard to quantify by the layman and they are nation wide variables.

    Dead wood in trees, (still attached) has a high ecological value (deadwood/dead branches is home to a range of Specialist wood boring insects and their predators etc. Removal of some dead branches should be considered where a risk of injury /hazard is identified.

    If you contact a hedge layer/coppice manager, they will probably be able sell you a hazel rods/binders 10’ to 12’ long x1” to 0.5” diameter for less than 25p each. So it’s not worth considering paying £hundreds for public liability insurance every year just to get enough material to make pegs.

    I can’t identify the tree species from photograghs you posted. What is it/are they?

  • Spot on RT, not that i know much about it but I've seen people go at tree work with hippy green hats on and erm well, it would have been better if they had left them alone to those that know what they are doing. When I was travelling horse drawn around the traditional travelling lanes and achin tans, I used to see and even today it is still evident to see where the travellers back in the day were coppicing and thinning for pegs and other wood they would use for basket making etc, you can see they knew what they were doing to ensure new re growth and longevity for the best of the tree's and coppices so they could go back and re crop. It isnt a case of oh thats a nice bit of wood I'll just hack that off.