Top Five Tips for Safe Healthy Trees
Under the Occupiers Liability (Scotland) Act 1960 you are responsible for your trees and any damage caused by them, so it is prudent to inspect your trees for disease or damage. Here are five tips to help you meet your obligations under the law:
- It sounds obvious but does the tree look healthy? Although a healthy looking tree could still be a danger, this has to be the first thing to look at. When inspecting trees we start by looking at the crown from a short distance back, is it full and dense, or sparse with gaps? Are there dead twigs or branches missing leaves? Is it leaning at an angle or heavily weighted to one side? If you think your tree just doesn’t look right or you are worried about something in particular just give us a call.
- Check for fungi. Many fungi grow around trees and cause no harm at all – in fact some are beneficial to the tree forming a mycorrhizal relationship with the tree helping the tree to absorb certain nutrients. However, some fungi can be a real problem so if you find fungi on or near your tree and are unable to identify them give us a call – we can help identify the nasties and then advise you on the best course of action.
- Check for hanging limbs. Tree branches can break in stormy weather or under the weight of heavy snow. Sometimes they don’t come down but remain ‘hung up’ in the canopy. These ‘widow makers’ as they are known in the forestry industry can be extremely dangerous – they can fall at any time, even in good weather. It is always advisable to check your trees after periods of bad weather to see if anything has broken. Make sure you look carefully as sometimes limbs are only partially snapped. Larger trees may require an aerial inspection – we offer this service, and it’s something we always do when working on a tree – even if we are only working in the lower canopy we will always check the rest of the tree is safe whiste we are up there.
- Check for dead wood. It’s natural for some limbs to die off as a tree grows – they may simply be shaded out by newer limbs higher up in the canopy, or sometimes they are diseased or partially broken (see above). Dead limbs loose their elasticity and become brittle and they can often fall to the ground even in light winds. If you can see dead wood in your trees then it’s best to get it professionally removed, especially if it is situated above an area open to the public, or over buildings. Deadwood can also be great habitat, so if your trees are well away from any potential target such as a garden or footpath, then it is best to leave it in situ. Never leave deadwood in areas where it could cause injury or damage if it were to fall.
- Look for included unions. As trees grow and form branches they occasionally form included unions – these occur where two limbs grow at an acute angle, trapping or ‘including’ bark within the joint. This type of union is notorious for its weakness as when the timber thickens forming annual rings, the two stems or limbs are forced apart often leading to a failure of the weaker stem. This can occur in both small and large limbs, sometimes huge sections can tear out with the potential to cause massive damage.
The best advice we can give is if you are in any doubt about anything or would just like the peace of mind gained from having a expert check your trees then ask a professional. There’s no substitute for professional advice, especially when it has the backing or our professional indemnity insurance. We have been trained to spot all the signs of disease and deformity and will always give you the best advice to keep your trees healthy and safe.