Tree Felling specialists - what you need to know
The term tree felling might conjure images of lumberjacks yelling “timber” deep in a wild forest. Tree felling is a routine job though, and if you need your overgrown garden clearing out, or have a tree that’s starting to lean dangerously, you can call on a tree surgeon who’s proficient in felling to help.
Tree felling is a much more technical and involved task than simply taking a chainsaw to a tree trunk or branch. It involves consideration, planning and careful working practices to ensure it’s completed safely and effectively.
An experienced tree surgeon will be able to advise you on whether you’re even permitted to remove a tree. It’s important to remember there are strict regulations governing the felling of established trees. If you can proceed, they’ll then be able to steer you through the process and complete the work – quickly and safely.
This means planning the work; checking the surrounding area and deciding the direction the tree in question will fall; pruning the tree to clear away branches and twigs; checking for evidence of disease (which could affect the tree’s fall); felling the tree and then clearing away the trunk and debris.
Cost of tree felling
Trees by their very nature (quite literally) come in all shapes and sizes. The cost to remove one will depend on how big the tree is, and where it’s situated.
The average cost to fell a tree is anywhere from £200-£400, and you might pay more if you need your tree surgeon to clear away the trunk and other debris. Expect to pay £50-£100 on top for that.
How to fell a tree
Tree felling will usually follow a five-step process:
- Planning and assessing the surrounding area. It’s important to consider where the tree sits, and therefore what direction you want the trunk to fall. Think about roads or paths, buildings, fences, even greenhouses or sheds. Essentially this phase involves taking care to ensure the tree isn’t going to crash down onto or block anything when it falls. Your tree surgeon will also need to account for the wind, and allow room to step away from the tree as it falls.
- Pruning and preparation. The next step is to remove branches and twigs in order to allow the trunk to fall smoothly. Twigs and branches should also be trimmed to at least shoulder height to ensure they can access the trunk easily.
- Check for diseases. Rotting tree trunks can create structural weaknesses and make the tree fall in an unexpected direction, so they’ll look over the tree before they begin felling.
- Felling. The felling technique depends on the size and type of tree. Slender, smaller trees may not need any felling tools – they can simply be pulled down with a long pole and rope. For larger trees, a chainsaw, a felling wedge or a winch may be required.
- Clearing. Finally, it’s the least glamorous part of the job (but one that really matters if you’re to get a clean, clear garden) – disposing of debris. Trunks can be sawn into logs, while branches, twigs and smaller cuttings should be gathered up and placed into a chipper.
What is a Tree Preservation Order?
Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) are issued by planning authorities and local councils, to protect trees and limit the work that can be conducted on them. They can be issued directly by a planning authority, or a resident can apply to have a TPO awarded.
If you want to carry out work on a tree under a preservation order, you’ll have to apply in writing to the relevant council to seek permission. Beware, breaking a TPO, even unknowingly, is a criminal offence and can result in big fines.
The qualifications your tree felling expert needs
Tree surgeons may require a Tree Felling License – issued by the Forestry Commission – in order to fell trees (especially if they are in public spaces). A competent aborist (another name for a tree surgeon) may also hold Arboricultural Association accreditation. AA Registered Consultants and ARB Approved Contractors must meet certain standards and follow specific procedures, and that gives you peace of mind that they’ll operate using safe working practices.
Planning permission for tree felling jobs
The restrictions covering what you’re able to do with your trees are set out by Tree Preservation Orders as well as (possibly) conservation area considerations. It’s important to consult your local planning authority if you’re unsure whether a tree is under a TPO, as fines for breaking these restrictions can be extremely harsh.
Insurance for tree felling
Involving climbing tall trees, falling branches and heavy machinery, tree surgery is potentially dangerous work, and it demands precautions and sufficient protection is taken. To cover your property and any of your nearby possessions, ensure your professional has public liability insurance.
Questions you should ask your tree felling specialist
- Are they a member of the Arboricultural Association?
- Will they be able to dispose of unwanted tree trunks, branches and twigs?
- How do they plan to fell the tree?
- How will they ensure necessary precautions are taken?