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Need a tree surgeon that can follow spec

Need a tree surgeon that can follow spec

Sometimes we all like to think we know best, we are guilty of that. Sometimes we have to accept that someone else knows better. This happened at a job recently. Our client had employed a Consultant Arboriculturalist to survey the estate of trees. We were tasked with carrying out the works on several trees and keeping to spec. Thus the title Need a tree surgeon that can follow spec

NO big deal

Yes, it’s true that following spec handed down by well qualified consultants isn’t a big deal at all. Sometimes, however it does’t make for an easy time. This is when other – no so committed arborists and companies interpret the spec. in their own way. Generally with a view of speeding things up and making them easier.

What was so tricky?

The spec. really reinforced the mantra of need a tree surgeon that can follow spec. This TPO’d tree (indeed the entire estate is TPO’d pretty much) was to: Reduce crown of tree by cutting back from branch tips by 2-2.5m ensuring wounds are no greater than 75mm and a even leaf density is left upon completion (paraphrased). Not a simple as it sounds. This was a lapsed pollard with cavities, dead wood and generally all the stuff that make tree climbing difficult present. There was not an option for a MEWP as access was tight and the ground conditions (tarmac) was questionable.

Rope and harness time then.

Yes, Arborist Dan climbed the tree using double and single rope technique and managed to ensure that he pruned the tree to spec. to growth points. He insured no cuts were greater than 75mm and that an even density of growth was left upon completion. Out of interest the dense area to the bottom right is another tree behind the one we worked on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stump grinding in Kent

Stump grinding in Kent

True…. grinding stumps may not be the most glamorous area of Arboriculture but it is a very necessary one. But we at About Trees Ltd are really excited to be able to  carry out Stump grinding in Kent moreover we cover the entire county and also neighbouring ones too. So, if you have the need for stump grinding in Kent , Essex, East & west Sussex we can help.

What is a stump grinder?

It’s a very specialist piece of equipment that cuts away the stump that is left behind when tree is cut down or felled. As you may know we carry out Tree Surgery throughout the  entire county and now we can advertise Stump grinding in Kent as part of our services. This means we keep every aspect of our work in house. Just how it should be. Just think, you can re-plant where that old stump was. Maybe you keep hitting an old stump every tie you cut the grass, have the stump grinder in and solve that problem.

How much access do we need?

After much deliberation it was decided to get the best machine that we could guarantee us being to help the most people out with. We ended up getting a machine that only needs 7500mm or 29 inches for access. That’s most garden gates. Job done!

How much do we charge?

Well, most times we are already on site having just completed the tree felling, this means we can keep our costs low. Obviously every job is different but prices start at £50. That’s pretty competitive we think. As always our quotes are free and non-obligational, so why not just find out how much it’ll cost.

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It’s not sour grapes….honestly

It’s not sour grapes….honestly

Being professional Arboricultural company is not always easy. For me I want to build a brand that it respected and acknowledged as being educated, honest and safe. In my head, it’s the kind of company that I would engage with if I came across it. We all shout from the roof tops that there is no place for cowboys in our industry, yet why are there so many companies, firms, set-ups wanting to still cut corners, beat any written quote and essentially not know their industry. I had this situation yet again this week, chances are I did not get a slightly abnormal job for being too expensive. It sound as if it is but I promise It’s not sour grapes….honestly.

What is it then?

Ultimately I suppose it’s frustration. Frustration in trying to compete with people that don’t know the dangers present. Frustration with the “we’ll beat any price” adverts. Frustration with most tree work being viewed as a uninspiring purchase to the tree owners. For many folk paying to have their trees worked on is up there with washing machine purchases.

Quality

I focus my efforts 100% on quality, from the second I arrive at a prospective job to the second the team leaves the completed job site tidy, clean and no mishaps. It has proven to be a good approach. I think potential clients are already expecting us to be on the higher side of the 3 quotes that they may obtain – it’s where I want us as a company to be if I’m brutally honest.

Our literature is clear. concise and full of decent imagery, I spend money (quite a lot) on this website, SEO, social media – we are easily found on several platforms. They can review us as a company online on Facebook, Google and Checkatrade. The trucks are kept clean, they are nicely sign written. The lads turn up in branded clothing, with a decent risk assessment and job sheet. Tools are up to date, new and well looked after. The quotes that are provided are clear, informative and I’d like to think get the point across that the potential client is dealing with a company that really does know what they are talking about. It’s all carefully crafted in a hope to win us more work.

About Trees is accredited & approved with various quality and health & safety monitoring companies. We should be viewed as professionals and as such we should be able to speak with a bit of authority and… well yes demand a price that reflects this.

Marketing speak

My wife of nearly 15 years is in marketing, I’ve heard all of the techniques and theories going over these years.

This is my favourite one I think. Where we aim as a company to be is YELLOW high quality part of the triangle. We stray into the ORANGE section quite often too. This is where I think as professionals we should be, foolishly its also where I imagine my potential clients would like us to be.

I’m wrong quite often. There is a large percentage of potential clients that are firmly in the BLUE low cost frame of mind. I don’t mind this at all. It becomes a little difficult when they also want to add the PINK and YELLOW corners to the equation. I think we can rightly so call the “the best of both worlds” or “having your cake and eating it”

Problem is for a contractor like us this is not sustainable, you can have it cheap, but the trade off is the priority and the quality.

How is this relevant?

For me the relevance is, we can’t or rather, I’m not willing to provide high quality at cheap prices and high priority and I find it hard to understand why someone would. I still think there are customers that want high quality and are willing to accept that it comes at a reasonable price – not even high.

Take for example a tree I looked at this week, a Cupressus macrocarpa – Monterey cypress in the back garden of a impressive contemporary house (newish build). Everything about this house, the street is is located on, the owners make it firmly my target audience. They are classified as Affluent Executives in marketing terms. Think Smeg appliances and holidays to Santorini, they pay for quality. The tree as shown at the top is clearly suffering with one dead stem and a second stem of low vigour. It’s obvious the dead stem has been so for a while now. I suppose the traditional approach would have been to climb the good side and work from that side removing the bad side first and so on. I inspected the base of the tree and at 1m above ground level found this

it’s Brown-rot. Now, I’m not proclaiming to be an authority but I’m an Arborist with over 20 years under my belt. I know how serious this is when you find it, I know it reduces wood weight by unto 70%. I also know it makes the wood have all the characteristics of a digestive biscuit. Further on I know that when this Brown-rot is dry and crumbly this makes this tree quite unsafe to climb. Armed with this knowledge I formulated an approach to get the tree down safely, controlled and with as little risk to my men as possible. It has to be a MEWP

This I view as being the most professional approach I could offer. This tree is not a climber. True I had a long climbing career, and in my younger days would have attempted this. Most likely I’d have been lucky and the dead stem wouldn’t have failed. But we know more now, we have more tools under ours belts now, and access equipment that can get into rear gardens. At the very least legally we have to be more careful. What I’m saying is there are options, old fashioned ropes and harnesses are not alway the go to approach. BTW straight felling of this tree I believe is not an option. It’s pretty much touching the gravel board and panels behind. It has quite some weight over the rear side. And characteristics of the wood are so compromised that it would be a guess as to where it would go.

Quote time

After weighing up the site, condition of the tree etc. etc. a quote was emailed off to the client (potential). It pointed out the nature of Brown-rot – the removal of Cellulose and Hemicellulose from the wood structure, the risks this posses to both the tree and traditional climbing techniques and so on.

The price I gave reflected the hire of the MEWP our own IPAF qualified Arborist, 2 grounds members, tree dismantled with care and control and all arisings removed from site. The price was £680+VAT.

It was deemed too expensive, I know the prospect will get other quotes that will be less than ours, I know that there is a high chance they will not know or even notice the tell tale signs of Brown-rot. I’m also pretty certain there will be a climbing arborist up this tree. There’s every chance he/she will be lucky the tree will come down perfectly well and everyone will ask why About Trees decided it was dangerous and provided such an over inflated price.

It’s not an over inflated price, it’s a price for a professional approach based on professional knowledge.

I’m not willing to rely on luck. That’s my lads up those trees. They have children, I’m not taking the risk.

That’s why I’m sticking in the YELLOW high quality side of the triangle.

It’s not sour grapes….honestly

The question remains – How do we make our industry and all the professionalism it brings on a par to a Smeg refrigerator?

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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.

You can find us on Checkatrade

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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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