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Kent Trading Standards Approved Tree Surgeons

Kent Trading Standards Approved Tree Surgeons

That’s right, About Trees ltd is proud to be Kent Trading Standards Approved Tree Surgeons. This means we have been closely vetted and awarded approval. For you this is peace of mind, you know that we are safe, responsible and criminal conviction free.

Good news.

You need to be confident that the team you have working for you are trustworthy and decent people. They review our insurances and qualifications alongside DBS check (criminal records) and depending on the outcome offer you approval or not as it may be. I feel this is very important, there are, as in all trades lots of cowboys out there. The more we can do to make people’s minds rest at ease the better, accreditation is key.

Accreditation

So, now we are Kent Trading Standards Approved Tree Surgeons and also a CHAS accredited company. I’d hope this shows the commitment to being professional, safe and trustworthy the About Trees is willing to make. We are certainly not into this for the quick buck.

Checkatrade

Checkatrade are working in partnership with KCC

About Trees is proud to be a Checkatrade approved company. This is what they check.

  • An interview carried out by Checkatrade at the trader’s home or permanent place of work.
  • Rigorous background checks carried out by Trading Standards, including a review of confidential and restricted information supplied by external organisations, other public authorities and the police in addition to checking information that is freely available to the public.
  • Public Liability Insurance check.
  • Identification checks.
  • Advice on and commitment to use correct documentation for example invoices, contracts etc.
  • A Criminal Background Check of the owner / responsible person of the business.
  • Accreditation and Qualification checks.
  • Verification of trading address.
  • Customer reference checks.

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Tree work specification

Tree work specification

Well, what is decent tree work specification ? In my view it’s when you look at the tree in question holistically. Look at the tree itself, it’s surroundings, the impact it has on its locality, both positive and negative. It’s when you speak to the client or owner of the tree, you listen. You draw from years worth of practical and intellectual skill. Hopefully all of this combines to the end result being the correct tree work specification.

This tree is question…

is a Fagus slyvatica – common beech and its a real beauty. It stands over the people on the ground dwarfing them. It measures 25metres in height and is a real specimen tree. However, it has some issues. The owner of this tree is aware of their duty of care and so has the tree inspected annually by Harroway Trees

John carried out a sonic test of the tree, this showed him and us if any issues were present in the tree itself. Think “Tree X-ray” and you’re not far off!

Results?

To everyone’s surprise this outwardly healthy looking tree – it had a full crown, very close to no deadwood present and full of vigour was under attack. The Picus test showed a cavity in the main stem indicated by an area of low sonic velocity.

What caused this?

Difficult to say, no fungal brackets were found on this test but on the last visit Kretzchmaria deusta was noted present. The assumption is this is the cause of the internal rot. Now, this is where years of knowledge pays dividends. It could easily be a knee-jerk reaction time and it could be said that this amazing tree needs to be felled on grounds of safety. No – not so. Drawing on years of experience a specification of

“it would now be prudent to carry out a reduction in the tree’s height by approximately 2-3 metres, depending on the opportunities for cutting back to suitable live growth in each instance”

This is where we came in.

Leading arborist Joe carried out the task of pruning this tree, he used his years of experience to get to the correct points in the tree and carry out an incredible job of executing the spec to the letter. I think you’ll agree the quality here shines. We are often told as Arborists that the sign of a good job is one where the results are natural and hard to see where intervention has taken place. In this case both boxes are ticked.

                          Well done lads.

Even the sun came out!

 

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Spring is here

Spring is here

It’s the time of year that is most anticipated, we’ve got through a very difficult Winter, we’ve endured The Beast from the East – twice. Finally we can say Spring is here. I love the first flush of blossom usually Prunus spinosa – blackthorn, followed closely by Crataegus monogyna – hawthorn. The hedgerows suddenly become a riot of colour. The birds start singing. Such a welcome return. Our phone also starts getting busy as people start to venture back into their garden. But is it the right time of year to prune your trees?

It’s all about timing

All decent tree surgery companies or stand alone Arborists should refer to British Standards (Bs 3998 2010) when specifying tree works. The scheduling of pruning is down to the Arborist to suggest. Clearly sometimes there are constraints in place that remove the “perfect world scenario”. For the most though we can as the professional suggest if the scope of works the client wants is suitable during springtime. Or indeed any other time of year.

The effects on the tree of both seasonal factors and weather conditions should be taken into account before pruning is undertaken. This is the Arborists time to shine!

He or she should adopt the mindset of avoiding work that would adversely affect the structural integrity and sustained growth of the tree in question.

Principles

So, spring is here. What’s the score?

Ideally as a general principle for maintenance of vitality, trees should NOT be pruned during SPRING GROWTH.

It’s best practice is to avoid pruning trees as they are coming into leaf – trees drain their reserves of energy (carbohydrates) stored within the wood to produce new leaves. Pruning trees at this time results in reserves being further depleted. Their wound response creates chemical barriers to wall off internal compartments within the wood to resist the spread of decay. This leaves them more vulnerable to pathogens and less able to produce vigorous and healthy new shoots.

Obviously some trees are pruned at this time, and most do not immediately decline or die, but the older the tree or the poorer its condition the more likely there is to be an impact on its health, vitality and resistance to disease in the long term.

Once fully in leaf  (new leaves have fully opened & matured) it is perfectly acceptable to prune – the next time to avoid is when trees prepare for autumn, as they are then using reserves to wall off their leaves, which leads to leaf fall.

As a note they should not also be pruned during periods of water stress.

How long to wait?

Well, we need to halt pruning until the new leaves have fully expanded and matured, or starch reserves have been replenished.

Obviously, there are always exceptions to the rule, this is also down to the Arborist’s expertise to advise the client as to which species these amy be.

Essentially, as always it’s a gentle balancing act between the wishes of the client, the health of the tree and offering honest professional advice.

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CHAS accredited tree surgeons in Kent

CHAS accredited tree surgeons in Kent

What does it mean to be CHAS accredited tree surgeons in Kent ? Well, it’s simple really, it means that we as a company have had our Health & Safety fully audited by an outside company. They have deemed the measures we have in place to be sufficient to be awarded an accreditation. It’s great news for us, and I hope it shows you our commitment to safety and decent working practice in this very dangerous field of work.

What did they check?

Chas needs to see a wide range of documents and paperwork. Insurances both Employers and Public liability, H&S documentation, First aid training. Proof of qualifications held, COSHH documentation and much more.

How does it help you?

In short I will be honest and say it doesn’t alter the way we go about our daily tasks too much as most of the systems we had already in place. You won’t notice too much difference in our approach. What it does do is show you our commitment to or staff, their safety and value to us. Hopefully this means something to you – after all it’s good to be valued isn’t it? It also makes your life a little easier if you are a commercial client – contracts manager etc. as you know we are fully compliant and ready to go for you.

Good for commercial clients

It also makes your life a little easier if you are a commercial client – contracts manager etc. as you know we are fully compliant and ready to go for you. The burden of paperwork is removed from you, we are CHAS accredited, that’s what you need to know – happy days.

 

 

For more info checkout  https://www.chas.co.uk

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We only do trees

We only do trees

YOU MAY NOTICE A DISTINCT LACK OF US ADVERTISING ANY OTHER “land-based” services on our website and adverts. This is because we don’t offer these services. I believe that in order to excel in our chosen area of expertise we should stick at that and that alone. We only do trees.

No fencing, grass cutting or landscaping.

So, when you ask us to care for your trees you know that that is ALL we we do and that we dedicate ALL of our working time to trees and trees alone. There is absolutely nothing wrong with landscaping, fencing and grass cutting – it’s just not our area of expertise. It would be wrong for us to pretend it were and take your hard-earned money for a job that we are not 100% into.

Level.

Seriously – I would not know how to put a fence up level and lay a decent patio.
To this end, we only employ Arborists (tree surgeons) with years of experience whom also only want to work on, and care for trees.In my mind it’s an important deciding factor when I choose a tradesperson, and I’d imagine I’m not alone.

Simple ethos.

When we come to work for you, you know that yesterday, last week, last month, last year all we’ve been doing is caring for trees. Simple yet important I think.

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You know when someone says “No job too large”?

You know when someone says “No job too large”?

It’s an interesting statement to make, because sometimes you know there are jobs that you know when someone says “No job too large”? that they are maybe making a claim that they cannot live up to. This can quite often be the case in the world of Arboriculture. Sometimes jobs come along that sort the men out from the boys. I realise this is slightly inflammatory but it is the case.

Sad

It was tough to acknowledge that we were going to price to fell this wonderful old tree, but there were very real safety issues regarding the site as a whole and the tree. Habitually this tree had been dropping limbs – some weighing in at 1.5 tonnes on to areas of high public footfall. It had been subject of remedial pruning in the past, this had not achieved the desired results. The local tree officers had seen the tree and decided it was one where the TPO was to be removed, consent was given to fell the tree. We got the call.

We tendered

For this job a little while ago, the process took some time as there were many options and costs that had to be considered, primarily was site safety and the removal of the arisings from the job. This tree was BIG there was a lot of arisings from it. Collating prices and making sure the logistics worked out took plenty office time. We had at least 200metres of temporary fencing that had to be installed to keep the public safe. We had to consider getting the crane into a suitable position so that it could make safe lifts. This involved building a temporary road! Fences had to be taken down to make access for the road and crane. It was a real logistical effort.

Planning

It’s all about planning – the day before the crane arrived we organised for fencing to be erected, the road built, signage put out and on site Risk Assessments to be carried out. I liaised with the manager of the property (a hotel), we kept fire exits open but made temporary escape routes. First aid stations were deployed on site and in the trucks, and harnesses. We had a review of Method Statements and assessed risk once more. We had to be very careful on this one. Weight charts for green cut Cedar were provided to the crane operator and Arborist up the tree  Joe so they could liaise with one another on their comms on how large to cut the pieces of wood.

How heavy?

In short – VERY. some of the lifts were coming in at 3.5 – 4.5 tonnes. It was serious on every level, dangerous and intense. The ground crew did an amazing job keeping up with branches that were individually the size of a medium tree. These branches came down at a fair rate of knots. There were approx. 8 loads of wood, woodchips and arisings to be removed from site. We set up a holding compound for the wood, chips were shot into a huge grain trailer and removed from site daily. The wood was loaded onto several HGV timber trailers and removed from site. I think, it all went pretty smoothly. Start to finish the job lasted for 6 days. 6 hard days!

Thanks

Go out to the team Paul, Nathan, Wayne and Joe, the 3 team members from Savage Cranes and the various drivers who took care of haulage for us.

So, you know when someone says “No job too large”? it really is the case with us at About Trees Ltd.

Watch the video Here

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Safety first every time

Safety first every time

Tree surgery is dangerous – FULL STOP ! The mix of heights, ropes, chainsaws and heavy, sometime VERY heavy pieces of wood make this one of the most dangerous professions around. Injuries arising from mistakes are very rarely small. Sometimes they can be fatal! That’s we for us it’s Safety first every time
We recently updated our first aid kits to compromise of full trauma dressings (military standard), blood clotting agents, tourniquets along with the usual first aid items such as eye wash, plasters and so on.

Problem is, sometimes the team is quite a distance from the truck and although they carry personal first aid kits they may need more. Our solution was to put them in indestructible, waterproof Pelicases from the US. These things are incredible, you can drive excavators over them and they don’t damage. The team can now work knowing their supplies of potentially life saving first aid gear is near them, dry and un damaged. Cost of case and all the supplies? Around about £150. In my view it’s a no brainer!

Fortunately more often then not we have to throw out un-used, out-of-date items of first aid. This I can only put down to decent and safe working practices. Sure, there’s the odd cut here and there, it’s quite unavoidable. For the most part serious injuries do not happen. I make sure to put adequate timescales on jobs, that reduce the risk of rushing, or feeling under pressure.

First aid is vitally important, but Safety first every time hopefully can reduce the risk of ever having to use military field dressings, tourniquet, resus aids etc etc.

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Trust your tree surgeon

Up-selling

I find it hard sometimes when looking at work to point out problems that could arise in the future for my clients, I’m aware it may be taken as me trying to “up-sell” a client so they increase their spend with us. It’s never the case, we’ve built our relationships on trust and honest advice. It needs to be time to trust your tree surgeon.

This advice was made crystal clear this week when I visited a windblown 80ft tree at a local golf course this week.
I’d looked at the tree 18 months ago. I thought I recognised it and remembered that i’d spotted an issue with it back then. I checked back when in the office on the recommendation/quote for works.

Trust your tree surgeon

Here’s a snippet of the recommendations from Sept. 2016
“Fagus sylvatica – common beech: Located near the 16th hole; this tree appears to have numerous brackets of the fungus Ganoderma applanatum present at a wound @ 6m high, there appears from ground to be a hollow, maybe from a historic limb failure at this point also…………. given the high footfall in this area I recommend that the tree be felled to ground level”

And?

Sure enough, it was the very same tree, the client had decided not to go ahead with the works in 2016, as a result this tree became more unstable and finally snapped @ the 6m point. It has damaged another two trees but fortunately no damage people occurred. Please bear in mind this is on a golf course! It could have been a tragedy.
It was a lucky escape, it doesn’t take a huge imagination to see what could have happened here.

How is this done?

I guess its a tough balance to get when giving people honest advice and not coming across as trying to “Up-sell” Ultimately it’s the goal of getting your client to trust your tree surgeon. How is this done?

That’s the magic question

Our clients understand from the start that we are in it long term with them, after all, a good relationship could bring return visits as much as once every year. Time to play the long game – look after your clients and they will look after you. Pretty simple really.

Good honest advice

This travels both ways, sometime it will mean letting the client know that there may be the need to spend more money (or maybe prioritise). The other direction, could be that the client need not spend so much money, there’s a better option (maybe cheaper). You can rest assured we will happily take that journey in both directions.

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Best course of intervention – No intervention

Best course of intervention – No intervention

As the title says, sometimes the best course of intervention is no intervention. What does this mean to us as Arborists? Well, quite simply sometimes we have to look beyond the financial rewards that this job brings. We should re-focus on why we all decided a life of tree climbing and caring for trees is what we chose to do, because lets face it, it’s hard, messy and dangerous work. Whilst it un arguably a fantastic profession, swinging around trees with chainsaws, there’s something bigger at stake.

If we don’t do the right things for our trees who will?

No intervention – why?

Without sounding too poetic – for the love of trees. Quite simply these are the most incredible living organisms on the planet (well at least this is my belief). They can be seem as our guardians, providing precious Oxygen for us to breath, forming micro- ecosystems themselves and generally being pretty damn impressive at growing enormous and standing up. This is why when we as Arborist come across old, veteran trees we should treat them with the respect they so rightfully deserve. Think – they have been standing sentinel for many years, through wars, floods, droughts, climate change and so on. In a fast moving world, trees offer us a sense of stillness and relaxation. They give us another perspective.

Dead wood is bad wood right?

NO! Dead wood is highly beneficial wood, it supports a whole host of insects and fungi that may not survive on live wood, it’s retention should be encouraged as much as possible. Clearly this is somewhat over shadowed sometimes by health and safety risks. Of course, a measured, professional decision should be made with regards to the retention of deadwood in the crown of a tree. My view is, if the tree is in an area of high public footfall then of course this somewhat out-trumps the retention of the wood in the crown. If, as the case here the tree is in a private estate and the owners are aware of the status of the tree (in this case the Fraxinus excelsior var Pendula – weeping ash is a Veteran tree) as the benefits then lets try to push for the course of less or even better no intervention.

Let’s leave the wood be, let’s leave it in the tree.

What is a Veteran tree?

A veteran tree can be any age, but it is a tree which shows ancient characteristics such as those below. These may not just be due to age, but could result from natural damage, management, or the tree’s environment.  This doesn’t mean it is an Ancient tree- we will talk about this later.

  • A low, fat and squat shape – because the crown has retrenched (reduced in size) through age
  • A wide trunk compared with others of the same species
  • Hollowing of the trunk (not always visible)

Cracks, hollow and cavities all point us in the direction of Veteran tree.

The above characteristics increase the tree’s value as habitat for wildlife (cavities, cracks hollows etc.)

Essentially if the tree looks like a battle scarred warrior it could well be a Veteran tree. This is not necessarily based on the age of the tree. A chronologically young tree could still be a veteran.

I think you’ll agree, the tree Joe is up is indeed a veteran.

How did we approach the job?

In short we did very little to the tree, there was one section that we had to remove some heavy wood as there was a fear that it’s weight would cause a much larger limb to be shed. This wood was cut and left at the base of the tree for local flora and fauna to make use of. Some photos were taken of the various cracks and wounds and our findings and recommendations will be passed on to our client. We were lucky in the fact that our client on this occasion is very much into their trees, and ecology as a whole. There was little explaining needed.

What next?

This tree will be monitored annually and risk managed by About Trees Ltd. Whilst not earning too much money on this job, what we have done is ensured this veteran tree sees more days and years and ultimately impressed upon our clients that we are a progressive, forward thinking company that is not interested in the quick buck. They will call us back when they need help or advice, we’ve started to build an honest professional relationship. That’s got to be worth it in the long run hasn’t it?

 

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Aerial rescue techniques

Aerial rescue techniques

Here’s the thing…. the temptation to squeeze in money paying work in is great, but sometimes there are more valuable and important things that can be done. None more so than the regular practice of Aerial Rescue techniques.

In case you aren’t aware – tree surgery is inherently dangerous, at best our Arborists are working with sharp handsaws and ropes, at worst it’s chainsaws! Pieces of wood weighing in excess of 250kg can be cut and lowered to the ground, or swung around (in a controlled manner). You don’t need to be a genius to realise the risks involved and the potential for very nasty outcomes. On a fairy regular basis Arborists are injured up trees, sometimes, in very tragic cases these injuries can be fatal. A young tree surgeon bled out in a tree in Clapham, London last year leaving a wife and two children. It’s the stuff of nightmares.

We need to do all we can to reduce these accidents happening in the first place, this is essentially an eduction process. We have ethos of safety first at About Trees, this seems to have installed good working practice amongst the team. Risk Assessments, whilst somewhat tedious are an invaluable tool to start conversations with regarding the site, the hazards and measures to be put in place. However, accidents do happen, how can we be sure we are well placed to deal with them?

Quick question…. who’s the best person to rescue an Arborist in trouble up a tree? Firefighter? Paramedic? Police? Coastguard? Spiderman?

The answer……

Another Arborist!

Yes that’s right, your colleagues on the ground, second climber, grounds person are the people who are going to save your life. They have to be competent, and calm in such a situation. They have to weigh up the scenario, act appropriately and SAVE a life. After all by the time the emergency services have found you on site it could be too late!

How can you be sure that all of these abilities will fall into place if the unimaginable happens?

PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE

Joe “rescuing” Nathan

When & Where?

So when we (About Trees) have a spare half day the urge to squeeze another little job in is resisted – instead, it’s Aerial Rescue techniques time. We find a large tree and essentially have a little play around with different scenarios. It may seem a little OTT but this is important and can save lives. Regular drills are imperative and increase the chance of a favourable outcome if the worst should ever occur. It’s about being confident.

Whenever we climb large trees we always install a rescue line up the tree so a rescuer can get to the victim quick sharp – it sets everyone’s mind at ease. Part of the risk assessment contains postcode/grid reference for emergency services, a mobile is kept with the team on the ground. These are all parts of the Aerial rescue tools we use.

A rescue plan is spoken over prior to all tree climbing commencing. A rescue kit, compromising of a full climbing kit and spikes (climbing irons) is laid out ready to go if needed as close to the tree as possible. Trauma first aid kits with Haemostats (blood clotting) products are always nearby. All of these measures, we hope add to a sense of being well looked after. The idea is to reduce stress on everyone. After all, if you feel as if you are being looked after, you feel safer.

Helping hand

Rescuers should be equipped with Emergency First aid training, they will have to use the techniques learned in the classroom on their colleague at height, regularly Arborists are working 25metres+ above ground level. So many companies will put their climbers at huge risk by not having a competent climber on the ground who can act as a rescuer. One word – IRRESPONSIBLE! We are talking about lives being at risk here.

No body within the industry will argue that aerial rescue techniques are not important to our industry. We are trained in Aerial rescue techniques at college before being allowed to climb trees using chainsaws, it’s the bare minimum a tree surgeon needs. So many of us get the ticket and then never re-visit of refresh our knowledge.

So it begs the question…

If it’s so important why are they so seldom practiced regularly?

As an industry we have access to the trees (clearly), the equipment (obviously) the people (um yeah). I can only draw one conclusion in answering the question. To me it all seems down to money! I understand, we are all in business to earn money, but this cannot be at any cost. Once a month, for less than half a day.  I’d wager that a huge proportion of tree companies do not practice Aerial Rescue on an annual basis.

We need to view this practice as “golden”.

 

Paul & Nathan making their way back to ground.

So, fellow “Arbs” resist that urge to earn a few quid more. Half a day once a month……. it could be the best half days work you’ve ever missed out on!

One last word

PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE

OK that was 3

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