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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.



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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.


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.


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.


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!


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.

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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


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”


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?


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


OK that was 3

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Are your trees Autumn fit?


Are your trees Autumn fit ?

Ok, so we in the south seem to have been lucky and escaped Ex-Ophelia – phew!! But are your trees Autumn fit ?
Autumn gales are a particularly treacherous time for trees, this is because they are still in full leaf when the high winds pick up. Combine this with high rainfall and saturated soils (quite often the case this time of year) and you have a perfect recipe for the unthinkable happening. Especially if there are hidden undiscovered issues with the tree to start with.

Trust us, we know this to be the case. Armed with over 20 years industry and tree knowledge there’s not a lot that can get past us. We have your best interests at heart.
Why not ask us to come and take a look and offer you good old fashioned honest advice. Quite often a decent visual check of a are can be done without even needing to climb the tree.

Autumn colours of a Liquidambar styraciflua – sweet gum


What would are you looking for?

A decent Arborist will be able to inspect a tree from round level, using the knowledge he or she has built up over the years. This will be fed back with a balanced approach to risk, this is based on many factors. Risk to buildings, possessions and most importantly life. Inspecting trees needs a level head, the desire to make “knee-jerk” reactions has to be controlled. We must remember trees were designed to stand up, they do this incredibly well.

Structural defects.

Structural defects, such as tears in branches, bark peeling off, compromised root systems, abnormal bulges and lumps in the actual structure of the tree. All of these can point toward a point of failure in the future. Unusual bulges can be areas that are weak and have been reinforced by the tree. The tree will put down very strong wood to try to re-inforce structural weaknesses. This is called “Reactive Wood” and it it is very strong.

A windblown Cupressos macrocarpa – Monterey cypress flattens a car and side of house Christmas eve 2013.


Fungi & trees.

This is the time of year that we can start to look for fungi on our trees. The presence of fungi either around the roots or maybe on the tree itself is not always a sign of impending demise, quite often fungi and tree lie in a mutually beneficial relationship. This is called a Symbiotic relationship.
However, sometimes the presence of fungi is not such great thing to spot, they can drastically reduce a trees ability to function on a vascular levels and also cause catastrophic structural weakness.

Meripilus giganteus –  giant polypore; often found on Beech and is SERIOUS!

Laetiporus sulphureus – chicken of the woods; often found on the main stems of Poplar trees.

Armillaria mellea – honey fungus; beneficial in woodlands, not so great in your pride and joy garden.


These fungi affect their host trees in different ways, it takes an expert to be able to I.D. them and offer relevant advice.

There’s so much more that an Arborist can see, especially obsessed ones like us at About Trees. Allow us to make your trees Autumn fit this year Contact us

Time for the BIG GUNS

Time for the BIG GUNS

These jobs are few and far between and for a tree surgery company everyone involved really enjoys them. It’s a Time for the BIG GUNS  when a crane used in tree surgery it usually signifies something out of the ordinary is going to happen. It’s a totally different experience for the team, communications have to be tip top as any mis understandings can be fatal, the crane operator and his banks-men need to understand what branch is coming off next and where its going to go, the Arborist (in the tree) needs to know where the crane is going to move the cut branches to and the ground team need to be on top of their game also. They have to process the branches lowered to the ground quickly and efficiently as to cause no hold ups. Communication is key here, so walkie talkies were order of the day.

Possibly the most crucial part of the entire undertaking is the knowledge of the Arborist –  in the case Joe. He has to be able to estimate the weights of the branches before he cuts them as to not over load the crane. There”s a lot of pressure on the Arborist shoulders with a crane job!


Quite simply, the tree had become too large. It was causing issues for neighbours and was deemed a headache for both the owners and neighbours it’s structural stability was questionable also. We had to use the crane here as the tree was simply too far from the access point into the garden, luckily we could use a nearby car park and lift the branches over the wall of the owner’s garden, several other gardens and down into our processing area – the car park. We had liaised with the car park owners and shut it down for the duration of the contract. Naturally we had made the local council aware of our intentions as it was a tree within a Conservation area.

How did it go?

In short, very well indeed despite the horrendous weather. Each lift that the crane made came in at around the 1tonne mark and we had 20 or so lifts. Its was a BIG tree! Despite this the tree was down safely within the day. The following 2 days were spent clearing the site, removing the wood and all evidence of us having been on site.

So, don’t forget, we really can say to you… No job is too big – we mean it.

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Stihl MS880 chainsaw

Huge Lime trees dismantled with Stihl MS880 chainsaw

This was really something for the crew to get stuck into. Two Huge Lime trees dismantled safely with Stihl MS880 chainsaw  (Tilia x europaea). What a job it turned out to be. It tested the skill, stamina and communication of the team to the maximum. A lot of the time, Team Leader – Joe found himself over 100ft away from his work colleagues. That’s 100ft vertically away. So yes, comms were used to make sure all members on site were fully aware of what’s going on and where they need to be. Large…very large chainsaws were used and modern, new rigging equipment used to lower safely to the ground at least 75% of the trees. Impact on the ground was minimal. In fact apart from the trees being no longer there is little signs of us having been there.

Why were the Lime trees dismantled?

The trees had been surveyed previously by an independent Arboriculturalist and been deemed physiologically unsound. Such was their size and location they had to be felled. Our client, whom we have worked for on several jobs such as this along with highways clearance works  asked us to carry out the work. First we liaised with the local authority – Tonbridge and Malling council to obtain correct permissions, then last week we made a start on the work itself. It was gruelling 10 days of hard graft, lumping wood, loading wood, un loading wood.

What’s a Stihl MS880 chainsaw?

A new Stihl MS880 chainsaw was purchased in order to make the final cuts on the tree stems. This saw is 125 cc and is a real beast, it weighs in at 20kg including a 48inch bar and saw chain. It’s pretty much the latest chainsaw available in Europe. It also is a real work out using it, you can only imagine how tough it is using it up the tree from a rope and harness. TOUGH

Sounds hard?

It was tough going, lots of rigging with ropes, heavy wood, heavy saws, heavy everything. The crew performed amazingly and were subject of lots of people watching their exploits.  All in all we removed approx. 40 tonnes of arisings from site and left sight very little signs of having been present. The stumps were then ground away to allow for the soil to be improved and re-turfed. Great effort lads, they earn a few easy days off that back of it.

So, don’t forget, we really can say to you… No job is too big – we mean it

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