Safety / Diligence / Beech

During the worst of storm Eunice a magnificent veteran Beech succumbed to the savage gusts, sending it crashing down onto the bank from which it grew.

The whitest part is what’s left after the fungus has had it’s feed. So brittle it can be crushed by hand!

The root plate and base of the trunk were riddled with Ganoderma (a type of fungus that feasts on healthy heartwood) which compromised it’s structural integrity. Had it been inspected by a professional surveyor a few years ago, (considered good, routine maintenance for mature trees near highways and public spaces) the infection would have been detected, and the tree could have been heavily reduced, and preserved for many years to come, providing important habitat for the local ecosystem.

Can you see the ‘widow makers’ hanging above the lane?

When the old boy failed, the crown completely blocked a (luckily) quiet lane in Chillington, and the only casualties were a BT cable and telegraph pole. A council approved contractor attended in the afternoon to clear the road, and Openreach made a temporary fix to get local residents back online.

Although the road was cleared, locals soon raised concerns to the Parish Council about how the trunk had been left perched, precariously on the side of the steep bank. when challenged by the PC, the contractor’s response was “we were only there to clear the road”

The PC Clerk tracked down the owner of the tree, and recommended they contact Skywalkers DTS asap to inspect the site, which Jack did within 20 minutes of the call.

The whole area was a disaster waiting to happen. The crown had smashed other, smaller trees on both sides of the lane, leaving many hanging branches (widow makers) above the lane. And the trunk. That enormous trunk, was only being prevented from sliding straight down the bank, into the lane, by a small Ash (infected with Dieback) that the Beech had crushed when it fell. A road closure was immediately ordered, and Jack made a plan to make the lane safe again.

At 07:00 the following morning, Jordan from Davis Building arrived with his 25m rotary tele-handler. after a thorough risk assessment and method statement was agreed by the whole team, we set about making the lane safe again.

The first section, 1.5t

Sections of the trunk were carefully cut away whilst being supported by the winch on the machine. Once separated from the rest of the trunk, the sections were lifted over the bank and into the landowner’s field behind.

Topher guiding 2.8t into the field

Piece by piece, the whole trunk was placed safely out of harms way.

Once the main trunk was cleared from the bank, the team set about removing the dangerous, damaged Ash trees that were full of Beech brash.

Spinney preparing the next section for lifting

The rotary tele-handler tells the operator the precise weight of each load it’s lifts. The total for all the sections of the main trunk? 12.6 tonnes!

With the trunk shifted to safety and the other hazards made safe, our job was complete, and the lane was reopened. Many thanks to Davis Building (SW) Ltd for providing the rotary tele-handler at less than 12hrs notice, it would have been a very different job, (and considerably longer road closure) without you.

Eunice vs Chestnut vs Volvo

When storm Eunice hit the South Hams on Friday morning, thousands of trees were damaged or uprooted. One particularly elderly victim was a veteran Horse Chestnut on the Fallapit Estate, near Kingsbridge. Measuring over 25m tall, and weighing in at an estimated 9 tonnes, it fell to the ground with incredible velocity, shattering itself and sending wooden shrapnel flying in all directions.

Luckily, nobody was around when it let go, so the only victims were a couple of small Silver Birch and a brand new Volvo XC60. But trees can be replanted, and cars can be replaced.

One of the residents contacted the property management company to inform them, who in turn, contacted Skywalkers DTS. Time was most certainly of the essence, as access to the residential properties on the estate was completely blocked by the fallen Chestnut.

The first task was to free the trapped car from under a very large limb, so it could be safely moved away, and no further damage could be done (although it will almost certainly be a write-off).

Once the car was safely out of the way, we set about carefully dismantling the large limbs and trunks. Fallen trees can be extremely unpredictable. Vast amounts of energy can be stored under tension or compression, so it’s critical that the energy is released as gently as possible. One overzealous cut, and a limb could kick out with incredible force, causing serious injury, or worse.

Even for seasoned professionals, reading tension and compression can sometimes be difficult, but on this occasion the tree has smashed itself up so much, there was a minimal amount to release before we could get on with the clear up operation of cutting up the timber into manageable sizes logs and chipping the vast amounts of brash.

With five pairs of boots on the ground, the road and driveway was completely cleared before dark.

If you have a fallen tree to deal with, please get in touch.

Ashes to ash

Now that Ash Dieback has a full chokehold on the population, we are, unfortunately, seeing more and more Ash removal projects coming our way.

Spinny diligently keeping the road clear of brash.

These two Ash stools in South Pool, Kingsbridge had been shedding twigs and smaller branches for quite a while. As the crowns overhung a studio roof and public highway (albeit a very quiet one!) re-coppicing was the only option. So they were carefully dismantled in a short day using the CMC-22.

As they were located in a conservation area, SHDC were given a notification of intended tree work, to which they had no objection. Even if they hadn’t been so heavily infected with Dieback, we still would have used the machine to access them, as climbing them would have been far too precarious due to the very old and hollow stools. This also meant the road was closed for the shortest amount of time possible.

The client was left with a considerable pile of logs, ready for splitting, stacking and seasoning for next winter. The remaining brash was stacked neatly as a habitat for pile to support the local ecosystem.

Catching Ash Dieback early, may mean using a machine like the CMC-22 may not be necessary. If you have an Ash or Ashes you think may be infected (more likely than not) we can come and inspect it for you, free of charge, with no obligation.

The Wind in the, Poplars?

Carrant Brook, Mitton.

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.

A difficult job made a little easier by fantastic weather.

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.

Mind that fence James!

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.

Pollard, done.