Seen through my work through Europe I have found that they don’t do a lot of heavy reductions on trees. Trees are tolerated and enjoyed in their natural state. However, in England we have a long history of managing trees and the countryside, we love to over-prune trees.
Everywhere you go, this has now become in peoples perceptions the norm of how a tree should be managed or looked after. This is incorrect, we are consistently stressing the tree out and by the time it recovers and puts on it’s regrowth we are then repeating the cycle. If a tree is reduced the next form of management should be a lift and thin. After that the tree should settle down. People need to either accept that they have a large tree or chop it down or move somewhere else. This constant reducing of trees is not how it should be. We need to fit in with modern arboriculture and modern management of trees.
It is more cost effective for the climb for councils. Recently in London during a meeting with the Islington tree officer, he advised that they are now not reducing any trees that haven’t been reduced. As with anything new, it will take a while for it to trickle down to the home owners however we are now becoming more aware that we should be allowing the tree to grow and do their job and stop trying to manage and control the tree to set their shape. Let the tree be something! What we recommend for bigger trees is lifting them so that you can get the light coming through. We can clear your second story window and the tree has then just got the sky to go to.
Mistaking a reduction for a Pollard
A lot of people seem to think that this heavy reducing is called a reduction however it is not, it is called a Pollard. Pollarding trees is when you strip the whole tree back to the wood. Once the tree has been pollarded, it needs to stay pollarded for between 5 – 7 years and we get a lot of lapsed pollards.
For instance the Oak tree we worked on today was pollarded over twenty years ago, then they were pollarded again and then reduced, then re-reduced and these trees are now ruined. Fifty percent they won’t grow back. People spend a lot of money carrying out this type of work on their trees and the trees end up looking awful. Let’s either remove these trees and plant something else in their place or let’s accept that there is a bigger tree there, admire it for what it is and work with it.
It is upsetting and of course we love reducing trees properly however very rarely do we get the chance due to the demands of some clients to cut back the tree severely. It is more difficult to reduce a tree lighter. It takes more skill and effort to take say 10 % off than it does to take 30% off. People seem to think that they are getting more value taking 30% off however it is easier to do this and a less able tree surgeon can carry out that spec. Only a good tree surgeon can reduce a mature large tree by 15%. The tree will then be left with a natural canopy. You are supposed to reduce 1 to 3 as the ratio.
When should you reduce your trees?
Reducing large mature trees such as Oaks stops the roots encroaching on the property so the roots correlate with the canopy and they grow together. If you reduce the canopy the roots come back slightly. Sometimes we’ll reduce trees for insurance purposes where every seven years the Oak tree gets reduced in and because it’s managed properly the tree still looks aesthetically pleasing, we are not stripping it right down and stressing the tree out, it’s being managed correctly.
There are many times we drive around and see Oak trees, in particular all over Essex, ruined by excessive pruning. Once a tree has been excessively reduced unfortunately it will never come back to it’s former glory. In Sweden the work is carried out lightly to ensure the tree still looks beautiful whereas in the UK we have many mutated trees through this type of work now.
Another old fashioned method is topping and this is where you just take the top off a tree, which is an old fashioned system of topping and lopping. Any firm that promotes this type of work are dated in their techniques and the way of managing trees.