Are you thinking of hiring a tree surgeon but aren’t sure what kind of work they do? This guide tackles all the important topics for homeowners and tenants, with information on everything from tree removal and trimming to regulations and costs.
The felling and removal of a tree in most cases can be a demanding task. Even for small trees it’ll involve working with chainsaws and can be dangerous. We’ve covered some of the important aspects in our guides below.
Tree trimming and pruning is necessary to maintain the overall health and aesthetic appearance of a tree. We’ve covered what you need to know and the associated costs of hiring a tree surgeon to help you if you need them.
Tree surgery is a highly skilled and dangerous job. It’s therefore important that you spend some time looking for a tree surgeon who is qualified, experienced and reliable. Below is a checklist of the things you should look for and ask when hiring a tree surgeon.
The governing body for tree surgery qualifications is the National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC). As a bare minimum, a tree surgeon will hold an NPTC (or Lantra) qualification governing the use of chainsaws, working at height, the use of equipment at height and health and safety on site. LANTRA is also a recognised qualification body.
A tree surgeon should work to BS3998, the British Standard for Tree Work, which is the leading standard on tree surgery. It covers things such as safety and risk management of the site, environmental considerations, wildlife protection, best practices and more.
There are a few voluntary schemes certifying the competence of tree surgeons. The two most popular are the Arboricultural Association Approved Contractor scheme and the Tree Care Approved scheme. Membership of voluntary schemes demonstrates an advanced commitment to the trade and is a useful measure of a tree surgeon’s professionalism.
A tree surgeon should hold Public Liability Insurance. This will protect you if any damage is done to your property or a person as a direct result of the work being undertaken. It is also worth checking if a tree surgeon’s insurance is height restricted. Some policies include clauses that state that forestry and felling work cannot exceed a certain height or be done within a certain distance of surroundings.
When receiving quotes from tree surgeons, the Arboricultural Association recommends that you check for the following:
A comprehensive description of the work to be carried out
Whether VAT is included
Who is responsible for obtaining permission if the trees are subject to a Tree Preservation Order or are in a conservation area
What steps will be taken to protect you and your property (a risk assessment and insurance
Reference to BS3998: 2010 Tree Work
Tree surgery: rules and regulations
Before you carry out work on a tree, be it trimming or removal, it is important that you establish its legal status. Some trees are protected by legislation which makes it illegal to do any work on them without authorisation.
Failure to ascertain the status of your trees before undergoing the work could lead to a fine or criminal record. The two main regulations that apply to homeowners are Tree Preservation Orders and Conservation Areas.
Tree preservation orders
A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is a written order made by a local planning authority to protect trees.
An order prohibits the felling, trimming, pruning, uprooting and wilful destruction of a tree without the local authority’s written permission. Any type of tree can be protected by a TPO and it can apply to a single tree or all trees within a defined area.
A conservation area is an area designated to protect and manage the special architectural or historic significance of a place – that is, the things that make it unique.
Most trees located in a conservation area are protected by a TPO. However, if a tree isn’t covered by a TPO, you’ll have to give written notice to your local planning authority of any proposed work, at least six weeks before the work starts. The purpose of this is to give the LPA a chance to consider protecting the tree with an order.
For more information on both, head over to our tree removal guide where we cover it in more detail.
As a general rule of thumb, you should:
Organise maintenance such as trimming or pruning to make sure your trees remain healthy and safe, as well as to promote growth
Keep an eye out for signs of diseased or dying trees and organise an inspection if you notice any signs
Take reasonable action to ensure no tree causes harm, damage or nuisance to any neighbouring land
As a final point, trees are at the heart of a lot of neighbour disputes, so it’s worth knowing what your and your neighbours’ rights are and what to do to keep tensions low.