Tree Surgery

Tree surgery – London
Tree cutting, tree care, tree pruning, tree felling, tree planting

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From ongoing tree maintenance contracts to one-off tree surgery projects, London Tree Surgeons offers a complete professional tree surgery service to clients throughout London.

Our team of professionals work under the direction of lead arborists, and are fully qualified to handle your tree work to the highest standard.

For all your tree cutting and tree pruning needs we can help.

We undertake wildlife assessments to ensure there are no nesting birds before any work commences.

Our Specialist Services include:

The removal of trees by cutting them off at ground level.

Stump Removal
The removal of stumps using a stump grinder.

Total tree removal in sections using specialist lowering and rigging equipment

Crown Reduction
A method of pruning to reduce the size of the canopy using approved techniques

Crown Lifting
Pruning to provide clearance for pedestrians, vehicles and buildings by removing lower branches.

Crown Thinning
Pruning to increase light penetration and air movement by removing selective branches.

Dead Wooding
The removal of hazardous branches and decaying timber.

Pruning is reducing trees and branches in size, including removing deadwood.

  • Most deciduous trees are best pruned when dormant, in late autumn or winter. Don’t prune in early spring, as many trees bleed sap if cut at this time of year.
  • The exceptions to the ‘deciduous tree’ rule are maple, horse chestnut, birch, walnut and cherry trees which all bleed extensively, even towards the end of their dormant season, so prune these in mid-summer after new growth has matured.
  • Conifers require little or no regular pruning except the removal of dead or diseased branches in late summer.

Pruning includes pollarding and coppicing which keep trees in a managed state of rejuvenation while controlling their size. Crown reductions and crown raising are terms used for pruning the branches which make up the body of the tree as apposed to the trunk.

Pruning fruit trees is undertaken to increase or decrease fruit production as well as the normal tree care reasons of all trees. London tree Surgeons have a specialist Fruit Tree Pruning service.

Pruning is a horticultural and arboracultural practice involving the selective removal of parts of a plant, such as branches roots and buds. Reasons to prune plants include deadwood removal, shaping (by controlling or directing growth), improving or maintaining health, reducing risk from falling branches, preparing specimens for planting and both harvesting and increasing the yield or quality of flowers and fruits. The practice entails targeted removal of damaged, diseased, dead, non-productive, structurally unsound, or otherwise unwanted parts of the tree. Specialized pruning practices may be applied to certain trees such fruit trees. Different pruning techniques may be deployed on herbaceous plants than those used on perennial woody plants. Hedges, by design, are usually (but not exclusively) maintained by hedge trimming rather than by pruning.

Pruning Trees – Fundamental Principles

Trees are very much like human beings in their requirements, mode of life and diseases, and the general principles applicable to the care of one are equally important to the intelligent treatment of the other. The removal of limbs from trees, as well as from human beings, must be done sparingly and judiciously. Wounds, in both trees and human beings, must be disinfected and dressed to keep out all fungus or disease germs. Fungous growths of trees are similar to human cancers, both in the manner of their development and the surgical treatment which they require. Improper pruning will invite fungi and insects to the tree, hence the importance of a knowledge of fundamental principles in this branch of tree care.

Proper cutting:
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All pruning should be commenced at the top of the tree and finished at the bottom. A shortened branch (excepting in poplars and willows, which should be cut in closely) should terminate in small twigs which may draw the sap to the freshly cut wound; where a branch is removed entirely, the cut should be made-close and even with the trunk. Wherever there is a stub left after cutting off a branch, the growing tissue of the tree cannot cover it and the stub eventually decays, falls out and leaves a hole, which serves to carry disease and insects to the heart of the tree. This idea of close cutting cannot be over-emphasized.

Where large branches have to be removed, the splitting and ripping of the bark along the trunk is prevented by making one cut beneath the branch, about a foot or two away from the trunk, and then another above, close to the trunk.

Too severe pruning:

In pruning trees, many people have a tendency to cut them back so severely as to remove everything but the bare trunk and a few of the main branches. This process is known as “heading back.” It is a method, however, which should not be resorted to except in trees that are very old and failing, and even there only with certain species, like the silver maple, sycamore, linden and elm. Trees like the sugar maple will not stand this treatment at all. The willow is a tree that will stand the process very readily and the Carolina poplar must be cut back every few years, in order to keep its crown from becoming too tall, scraggy and unsafe.

Special Considerations

Pruning shade trees: Here, the object is to produce a symmetrical crown and to have the lowest branches raised from the ground sufficiently high to enable pedestrians to pass under with raised umbrellas. Such pruning should, therefore, necessarily be light and confined to the low limbs and dead branches.

Pruning lawn trees: Here the charm of the tree lies in the low reach of the branches and the compactness of the crown. The pruning should, therefore, be limited to the removal of dead and diseased branches only.

Pruning forest trees: Forest trees have a greater commercial value when their straight trunks are free from branches. In the forest, nature generally accomplishes this result and artificial pruning seldom has to be resorted to. Trees in the forest grow so closely together that they shut out the sunlight from their lower limbs, thus causing the latter to die and fall off. This is known as natural pruning.

Before you book a cheap tree surgeon or try it yourself without the correct equipment watch this clip from BBC’s Rogue Trader and a famous YouTube clip of a DIY tree felling…


Arboriculture definition from Wikipedia

Arboriculture is the cultivation and management of trees within the landscape. This includes the study of how trees grow and respond to cultural practices and the environment, as well as application of cultural techniques such as selection, planting, care, surgery and removal. The main focus of arboriculture is amenity trees; such trees are maintained primarily for landscape purposes for the benefit of human beings. Amenity trees are usually in gardens, parks or urban settings, and arboriculture involves aspects of plant health, pest and pathogen control, risk management, and aesthetic considerations. Trees offer cultural and natural heritage benefits beyond production of wood products; for this reason, arboriculture needs to be distinguished from forestry, which is the commercial production and use of timber and other forest products from plantations and forests.


Pollarding is a pruning system in which the upper branches of a tree are removed, promoting a dense head of foliage and branches. It has been common in Europe since medieval times and is practised today in urban areas worldwide, primarily to maintain trees at a predetermined height.

Traditionally, trees were pollarded for one of two reasons: for fodder to feed livestock, or for wood. Fodder pollards produced “pollard hay”, which was used as livestock feed; they were pruned at intervals of two to six years so their leafy material would be most abundant. Wood pollards were pruned at longer intervals of eight to fifteen years, a pruning cycle that tended to produce upright poles favoured for fence rails and posts, as well as boat construction. One consequence of pollarding is that pollarded trees tend to live longer than unpollarded specimens because they are maintained in a partially juvenile state, and they do not have the weight and windage of the top part of the tree.

Older pollards often become hollow, so can be difficult to age accurately. Pollards tend to grow slowly, with narrower growth rings in the years immediately after cutting.

As in coppicing, the tradition of pollarding is to encourage the tree to produce new growth on a regular basis to maintain a supply of new wood for various purposes, particularly for fuel. In some areas, dried leafy branches are stored as winter fodder for stock. Depending upon the use of the cut material, the length of time between cutting will vary from one year for tree hay or withies, to five years or more for larger timber. Sometimes, only some of the regrown stems may be cut in a season – this is thought to reduce the chances of death of the tree when re-cutting long-neglected pollards.

Pollarding was preferred over coppicing in wood-pastures and other grazed areas, because animals would browse the regrowth from coppice stools. Historically, the right to pollard or “lop” was often granted to local people for fuel on common land or in royal forests; this was part of the right of Estover.

An incidental effect of pollarding in woodland is the encouragement of underbrush growth due to increased levels of light reaching the woodland floor. This can increase species diversity. However, in woodland where pollarding was once common but has now ceased, the opposite effect occurs, as the side and top shoots develop into trunk-sized branches. An example of this can be seen in Epping Forest in London/Essex, UK, the majority of which was pollarded until the late 19th century. Here, the light that reaches the woodland floor is extremely limited owing to the thick growth of the pollarded trees.

Pollards cut at only about a metre or so above the ground are called stubs (or stubbs). These were often used as markers in coppice or other woodland. Stubs cannot be used where the trees are browsed by animals, as the re-growing shoots are below the browse line.

As with coppicing, only species with vigorous epicormic growth may be made into pollards. In these species (which include many broadleaved trees but few conifers), removal of the main apical stems releases the growth of many dormant buds under the bark on the lower part of the tree. Trees without this growth will, of course, die without their leaves and branches. Some smaller tree species do not readily form pollards, because cutting the main stem stimulates growth from the base, effectively forming a coppice stool instead. Examples of trees that do well as pollards include broadleaves such as beeches (Fagus), oaks (Quercus), maples (Acer), black locust or false acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia), hornbeams (Carpinus), lindens or limes (Tilia), planes (Platanus), horse chestnuts (Aesculus), mulberries (Morus), redbud (Cercis canadensis), tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) and willows (Salix), Corylus, European ash (Fraxinus excelsior), sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa), elms (Ulmus spp), poplars (Populus spp), birch (Betula spp), Ligustrum ovalifolium, junipers, (Juniperus spp), dogwoods (Cornus spp), apple (Malus spp), plums, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots and almonds (Prunus spp), sumacs (Rhus spp), hollies (Ilex spp), eucalypts (Eucalyptus spp), bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), Cotoneaster spp, brooms (Cytisus spp), a few conifers, such as yews (Taxus), and even vines as Lonicera spp, Clematis, and Wisteria spp.

The technique is also used in Africa for moringa trees, to bring the nutritious leaves into easier reach for harvesting. Pollarding is also used in urban forestry in certain areas for reasons such as tree size management, safety and health concerns. It removes rotting or diseased branches to support the overall health of the tree, living and dead branches that could harm property and people, as well as expanded foliage in spring for aesthetic, shade and pollution concerns.Trees may be “rejuvenated” by pollarding – for example Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana “Bradford”), a beautiful flowering species when young, but brittle and top-heavy when older.

Oaks, when very old, can form new trunks from the growth of pollard branches, i.e. surviving branches which have split away from the main branch naturally.

“Poll” was originally a name for the top of the head, and “to poll” was a verb meaning “to crop the hair”. This use was extended to similar treatment of the branches of trees and the horns of animals. A pollard simply meant someone or something that had been polled (similar to the formation of “drunkard” and “sluggard”); for example, a hornless ox or polled livestock. Later, the noun pollard came to be used as a verb: “pollarding”. Pollarding has now largely replaced polling as the verb in the forestry sense. Pollard can also be used as an adjective: “pollard tree”.


Coppicing is an English term for a traditional method of woodland management which takes advantage of the fact that many trees make new growth from the stump or roots if cut down. In a coppiced wood, young tree stems are repeatedly cut down to near ground level. In subsequent growth years, many new shoots will emerge, and, after a number of years the coppiced tree, or stool, is ready to be harvested, and the cycle begins again.

Many forestry practices worldwide involve cutting and regrowth, and coppicing has been of significance in many parts of lowland temperate Europe. The widespread and long-term practice of coppicing as a landscape-scale industry is something that remains of special importance in lowland England. For this reason many of the English-language terms referenced in this article are particularly relevant to historic and contemporary practice in that area.

Typically a coppiced woodland is harvested in sections or coups on a rotation. In this way, a crop is available each year somewhere in the woodland. Coppicing has the effect of providing a rich variety of habitats, as the woodland always has a range of different-aged coppice growing in it, which is beneficial for biodiversity. The cycle length depends upon the species cut, the local custom, and the use to which the product is put. Birch can be coppiced for faggots (bundles of brushwood) on a three- or four-year cycle, whereas oak can be coppiced over a fifty-year cycle for poles or firewood.

Coppicing maintains trees at a juvenile stage, and a regularly coppiced tree will never die of old age — some coppice stools may therefore reach immense ages. The age of a stool may be estimated from its diameter, and some are so large—perhaps as much as 5.4 metres (18 ft) across — that they are thought to have been continually coppiced for centuries.

In southern Britain, coppice was traditionally hazel, hornbeam, beech, ash or oak, grown amongst oak or sometimes ash or beech standards. In wet areas alder and willows were used. These coppices provided wood for many purposes, especially charcoal, which before coal was economically significant in metal smelting. A minority of these woods are still operated for coppice today, often by conservation organisations, producing material for hurdle-making, thatching spars, local charcoal-burning or other crafts. The only remaining large-scale commercial coppice crop in England is sweet chestnut which is grown in parts of Sussex and Kent. Much of this was established as plantations in the 19th century for hop-pole production (hop-poles are used to support the hop plant while growing hops) and is nowadays cut on a 12 to 18 year cycle for splitting and binding into cleft chestnut paling fence, or on a 20- to 35-year cycle for cleft post-and-rail fencing, or for sawing into small lengths to be finger-jointed for architectural use. Other material goes to make farm fencing and to be chipped for modern wood-fired heating systems.

Post Author: treemanaxe

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