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Planting and caring for your trees

Are there any controls on the type of tree I can plant in my garden?

There are no controls on the type of tree that can be planted in your garden. However, a number of points are worth considering:

  • how much space is available? 
  • it is always best to ensure the space is sufficient to accommodate the tree. Are there any overhead wires or obstructions? 
  • in what position is the tree in comparison to the property? 
  • A new tree to the south or west may block afternoon or evening sun, while a tree to the north will not restrict direct light from entering the building.

My tree needs to be pruned, what should I do?

In many cases the best form of tree management is not to prune at all because pruning can disrupt the natural state of the tree and also creates opportunities for decay fungi to enter and cause disease. If you feel you must prune a tree it is best to mimic nature. Crown reduction (making a tree smaller in size by overall pruning) is generally a bad form of tree management and will not normally be supported by the Council as it is very unnatural for the tree, often stimulates vigorous regrowth and can spoil the shape and amenity of the tree. If you feel you must prune your tree then decide what you want to achieve first and only carry out work that will do this. Such work should normally take the form of:

Crown lifting - The removal of branches from ground level to a specified height, usually expressed in metres and ultimately producing a clear stem. It is important that no branches bigger than 1/3rd the size of the associated tree stem are removed, as such wounds can create weaknesses in the tree.

Crown thinning - This is the thinning of the overall canopy of the tree usually by no more than 20%. The tree will remain the same size but the canopy will be thinner, allowing more light to penetrate. Such work is unlikely to stimulate vigorous regrowth.

Dead-wooding - Removing the dead-wood from a tree can be beneficial and if the tree is protected requires no consent from the council. Before undertaking any work it is necessary to check whether the tree is covered by a Tree Preservation Order or stands in a Conservation Area.

When should I prune my trees?

Traditionally trees are pruned during the dormant season (November - February) although there is no ideal time for tree pruning to occur. However pruning should definitely be avoided just before leaf fall and just before bud bust (on deciduous trees) because pruning at this time can reduce tree energy reserves and incorrect pruning during late March, April and May can induce 'bleeding' where the rising sap weeps from the tree. This can severely stress the tree, disrupting its natural balance at a very important time. If you have concerns about the work you intend to do consult a professional tree surgeon. It is also important not to disturb nesting birds or roosting/hibernating bats. If you have any queries concerning wildlife contact the Countryside and Rights of Way Team on 01274 432425.

Will the council pay for my protected tree to be pruned?

All landowners are responsible for their own trees and any work required. The council will therefore not pay for the work.

How can I tell if my tree is safe?

Such assessments are best made by qualified experts however this is not a service that is currently offered by the council's arboriculturists. Further details of tree contractors and consultants operating throughout the UK are available from the Arboricultural Association website .

My tree doesn't look very healthy - can the Council advise me? If not, where else can I seek advice?

Local tree contractors and consultants will be able to offer advice on the health and management of trees however this is not a service that is currently offered by the Council's arboriculturists. Further details of tree contractors and consultants operating throughout the UK are available from the Arboricultural Association website.

There are branches shedding from my tree due to high winds and I am worried. What should I do?

The loss of branches from trees is not necessarily indicative that there is a problem as usually branch shedding is confined to those branches that were already dead within the crown and limb loss in high winds is usually a natural biological process. However, it can be extremely worrisome and a possible risk to passers-by, traffic and property. You should instruct a tree surgeon or consultant to assess the tree for safety and they should advise you how best to proceed which might include pruning to lessen any future potential risk. Please check to see if the tree is protected with the Council first.

My tree has a fungus growing on it, does this make the tree unsafe?

There are many types of fungi that affect wood. They are often indicative of a wider problem and are a valuable tool in diagnosing what may be wrong with your tree. They are also an invaluable habitat for rare insects and beetles and should not be removed from the tree. Removing fungal fruiting bodies from trees will not get rid of the fungus since it is usually by this stage well established within the tree. If you find fungi growing on your tree call an expert to help identify the potential problem. Details of tree contractors and consultants operating throughout the UK are available from the Arboricultural Association website.

Does ivy damage trees?

Ivy uses trees for support but does not feed on the tree. Generally healthy trees will not allow ivy to become fully established. However, as trees age their crowns may begin to allow more light to penetrate. In such situations the extra light can stimulate growth in the ivy at the expense of the tree which subsequently declines.

Ivy tends to establish itself in deciduous trees. These trees lose their leaves in winter, to lower their wind resistance. But because ivy is evergreen, it raises the wind resistance and increases its weight which means that the tree is more likely to suffer damage in stormy conditions.

In addition, the presence of ivy can hinder tree inspections and may conceal serious defects in a tree. To remove ivy from the tree you will need to cut away a section about an inch in length further down to isolate the growth towards the top of the tree. This will then die back and fall away or can be pulled from the tree.

My tree drops a sticky substance, what can I do about it?

Certain species of trees are susceptible to aphids that feed on the sap through veins on the leaves. Because the sap has a very low nutritional content the aphids must feed on a very high volume and they discharge the excess as a sticky sugar solution (honeydew) while they are feeding. There is very little that can be done to resolve the problem. Spraying is often not practicable. Fortunately, the sugar solution is only a mild one and should not affect paintwork on cars, if the car is washed at regular intervals. Regular washing will also help to prevent a growth of sooty mould on the sugar solution deposits which can develop over time.

What can I do about grey squirrels in my tree?

If you require information on control of grey squirrels contact a local pest control firm. You can find details on the Yellow Pages website.

I think my tree is dead - can I remove it?

Please contact the Trees Team on 01274 434605 for further advice.

Will the council accept responsibility for my tree if I am not allowed to cut it down and then it causes damage?

If the council refuses permission to work on a protected tree and damage subsequently occurs that was reasonably foreseeable then a claim for compensation can be made under certain circumstances. However in such cases the council would advise you to seek professional legal advice.

I have been allowed to remove a tree but on condition that I replant. Where can I obtain a new tree?

The Trees Team on 01274 434605 can provide further advice about this or alternatively you should speak with your arboriculturalist.

Can protected trees be felled to enable development to take place?

If a planning application is received to develop and protected trees are affected then the trees will be assessed as part of the planning process.

What do I do if I think someone has or is working on a protected tree without consent?

Contact the Trees Team at or on 01274 434605 immediately and we can check to see if the work is authorised. If the work is not authorised we will investigate and take appropriate action. All queries regarding potentially unauthorised works will be dealt with in the strictest confidence.