Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Fungi in the Garden

 Many property owners are unaware of the potential risks involved with looking after and maintaining garden trees. However, you are legally responsible for the maintenance of your trees and may be liable to prosecution if damage or injury occurs due to falling timber, irrespective of the circumstances.

So, how can you protect yourself and mitigate your liability?

A simple tree inspection, carried out by property owners is often over-looked, but could offer you a great insight into the general health of your trees. By simply looking at the general condition of the stem, branches and foliage can tell you more than enough to determine if a tree is healthy or not.
The stem should not have any significant cracks, holes or fungal growths. The branches should be free from damage and checked for dead sections. The foliage should have a consistent colour, density and coverage across the tree for the season.

But what are fungal growths, what do they look like and what do they mean to your tree?

There are numerous fungi species in the UK, but the two types below are the most common identified within gardens:

Honey Fungus - Attacks the root system of trees. Look for white fungal growths between the bark and the timber, near the base of the tree, with possible honey coloured toadstools appearing in autumn. Affecting Birch, Beech, Holly and Willow to name a few.

This is the most destructive fungal disease in UK gardens as it continues to feed on the decaying timber after killing it, and spreads through an extensive root system at  1 meter per year. During periods of hot dry weather, sudden autumn colours or dying branches could indicate failure of the root system.

Bracket Fungi are fan shaped growths which appear on the exterior of the tree after developing internally within the heart wood. Less common than honey fungus, they affect Ash, Beech, Walnut, Apple and Elm and appear during spring, summer or autumn, but weakened trees may fail at any time.

Internally, the tree is rotting and may sound hollow when tapped with a mallet. Bracket fungi, reproduces by releasing spores into the atmosphere which are transported by wind to other potential host trees. If you do find and remove these brackets, please keep one to assist your tree surgeon or inspector to determine the health and extent of damage to the affected tree.

Prior to fungal growths appearing, you may notice significant die back of branches and foliage, with occasional branches falling from the tree acting as a prime indicator that the heart wood has already failed. Unfortunately, this fungal disease will require the tree to be removed to prevent injury or damage to property.

If you have any doubt with the condition of your trees, you should contact your local tree surgeon and/or the local council Tree Officer for advice and guidance. For a free no obligation quote for all aspects of tree work in Lymm and surrounding areas call Tree Tamers on 07919544153 or email info@treetamers.co.uk
More specific information regarding Fungi may be obtained on www.rhs.org.uk

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Domestic Storm Damage

Domestic Storm Damage.

Last winter saw some the worst storms in British history with the wettest winter on record. Wind speeds peaked at circa 108 mph in places and the Forestry Commission estimated that nearly 30 million trees may have been damaged. The Great Storm of ’87 only damaged 15 million in comparison.

Last year, the Telegraph suggested that insurance claims cost in the region of £1 billion to clear up the devastation, with a high proportion of this damage coming from trees or branches falling on to properties. Also, your insurance company may only pay out in the event of a sudden and unforeseen event as a result of storm conditions. If, when they inspect the debris, they discover a pre-existing weakness in the tree structure, which could have been addressed through general maintenance prior to the storm, they may not accept your claim as a result of negligence!
Additionally, if you were to make a claim against your house insurance, they may only cover the cost of removing the bare minimum to facilitate the repair required. The remaining debris is then considered to belong to the property owner, and therefore becomes your responsibility to dispose of it.

With this seasons storms being currently forecast as well on their way, it may be time to do some damage limitation of your own. Trees with a large canopy can be affected in much the same way as a sail, but once the tension on the trunk and root system reaches its peak, the tree may break up and/or be uprooted entirely.

To minimise the potential for damage, there are a few options available (and yes – one is to remove the potential threat in its entirety).

Firstly however, property owners can carry out an assessment for themselves by considering the proximity of buildings, and searching for obvious signs of damage (cracks) to trunks or branches, branches rubbing across one and another or signs of fungi. Council Tree Officers may also be able to offer advice, particularly if a preservation order is in place.

Secondly, thinning out the crown of a tree, by removing interior branches and any ivy present, will decrease the density and therefore allow more wind to pass through, as opposed to catching on the foliage (as ivy is evergreen) and increasing the potential for them to blow over. Some species can even cope with being pollarded (willow) or reduced in height (leylandii).

Thirdly, as I said above, you can remove the tree entirely – however this shouldn't give cause to remove all trees ‘just in case’. Rather, you could re-plant with more wind resistant species or smaller specimens appropriate for the size of your property. Consider the maximum height and spread a species may achieve in time, and ensure you have at least 1.5 times that from any property (to minimise the potential of damaging property if they did uproot, and also as wind-blown trees may actually snap near the tops and be catapulted from the canopy itself!)

Basic pruning techniques are not beyond the seasoned gardener, however, when the need to access the canopy from a rope and harness arises, you should consider contracting a professional tree surgeon, who will complete the necessary work safely, accurately and efficiently whilst removing all necessary waste for you and leaving your garden nice and tidy.
Tree Tamers Tree Specialists can do just that, so give us a call on 07919544153 or email frazer@treetamers.co.uk and be confident that your trees are in safe hands. Free no obligation quotes in Lymm and surrounding areas.