At the end of 2020 we were asked to look at a Monterey Cypress at Torcross. The tree was an iconic landmark overlooking the whole of Torcross and Slapton Sands.
5 years ago it had been heavily reduced by another firm. The intention was to reduce its windsail, as it was growing rather precariously at the edge of a steep slope, directly above the often busy main road to Dartmouth. In hindsight, the reduction was too much for the tree to cope with, and since then it had been in a steady decline.
If the tree had failed in high winds, it should have fallen across two gardens, but trees are inherently unpredictable, so public safety had to take priority over sentiment. Therefore the very difficult decision was taken to remove the tree.
Using a state-of-the-art narrow access MEWP (cherry picker) and specialist rigging equipment, the behemoth was carefully dismantled.
It was very much a bittersweet project. On one hand, it was immensely satisfying to tackle such a complex task, but on the other, it was a little gut wrenching to be taking down such an iconic, and once beautiful tree. However, public safety was priority one. The extent of the decay within one of the main trunks was quite shocking. Had it have been left for another season, a catastrophic failure would have been highly likely. Nothing has gone to waste. The wood chip as been used at a local equestrian centre, and the logs will be heating many local homes next winter.
Beech maintenance is best carried out during late Autumn, Winter, or once the tree has dropped it’s leaves. At this time, the majority of the tree’s nutrients have moved down into it’s roots, so when material is removed, less nutrients are lost.
If your Beech is in a small garden, close to overhead cables or next to a road or footpath, it’s a good idea to keep it’s size in check. This is done by carefully, and sympathetically reducing & thinning the crown at regular intervals.
Only a small amount should be removed at any one time, and this should be done no more frequently than 3 year intervals, to minimise stress to the tree. Before any thinning or reducing can be done, the whole tree should be checked for rubbing branches, and corrections made accordingly. The amount of rubbing branches removed, will dictate how much more can be removed during the thinning and/or reducing of the remaining crown.
Rubbing branches are a very common issue with Beeches. If left unattended, one of the branches will usually ‘win’, and one will ‘lose’, leading to a branch or limb failing, and ultimately falling. In a woodland this rarely causes an issue, and is part of the natural life cycle of the Beech. If however, there is a greenhouse or a footpath below, damage or injury could occur.
Once your Beech has dropped its leaves, take the opportunity to have a good look at the crown’s structure.
There isn’t much a farmer can’t fix with baler twine, and there aren’t many trees that can’t be dealt with using a rope and a tractor. So when we were called to a farm near Kingsbridge, to deal with a mature Ash with Dieback, we knew it was going to be a challenge.
Having already had some large roots severed, and with the infestation of Dieback, climbing and dismantling was out of the question. The only specifications were to avoid damage to the barn to the south, and the static caravan to the east, so the tree was headed north! Of course, no tree job on a farm would be complete without a rope and tractor, so for ‘belt & braces’ they were used to give a little tug on the right direction.
Poplars and Willows are very popular trees to plant near brooks and other natural drains that can easily flood. Mainly due to their natural thirst for water, and the fact they are a fast growing species
And there in lies the problem…
Fast growing species such as Willow and Poplar, are also inherently weak structured trees when compared to slower growing broad leaf species such as Oak or Elm. Without regular, professional maintenance they can soon dominate the sky, blocking out views and light. But more importantly, they can become ‘too heavy for their own good’. Enter the cold weather and strong winds, and you could soon be facing more than a leaf covered lawn.Pollarding is a common way to keep These trees in check. However, it must be done with correct cutting techniques and at a suitable frequency for the size and species of tree.
This particular Poplar, had been left for too long, and the new growth had become dangerously heavy. It also hadn’t been pollarded correctly the last time, this led to some bucket rot and excessive deadwood.
The close proximity of the tree to fences and other garden obstacles required some very careful lowering techniques. Progress was painfully slow, but by the time we ran out of light, everything was on the ground.