Service Summary

Welcome to The Green Man Arboricultural Consultancy

This website supports the consultancy business based in North Wales and which operates throughout the United Kingdom providing a wide range of arboricultural services including: home buyers tree reports, tree condition reports, development site surveys and reports, woodland assessment and management plans and general advice relating to trees.

For further information or to discuss your requirements please contact us on: 01978 821 851/ 07981 912 162 or via

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Related Ecology: Birds and the Nesting Season

In my industry there are few windows of opportunity for tree works in full consideration of all related ecology, in particular bats and birds. It is not just a case of habitat but trees and hedgerows also provide navigational tools and food sources.

Bats should all be hibernating at the moment, although they do wake during this period and sometimes come out to feed or relocate to a more suitable roost site. Birds however are as busy as ever.

The official nesting season starts in March however you may have noticed that the bird population are already starting to pair up.

I attempt to stop any tree works I have scheduled by February. Although nesting may start in March the birds need some time to pick a suitable nesting site, but I do believe that this process starts earlier.

My garden is teaming with birds this morning, some already seemingly paired off, some trying to find a mate. And I expect that they will already have picked an area to nest in, in the new year, taking this time to select somewhere with security and good access to food sources for their young, or returning to an area used the previous year.

It is therefore vital that we consider this prior to undertaking any vegetation management.

Tree works required to abate a serious hazard often have to proceed if there is no suitable alternative however cyclical works, scrub management or the removal of trees and hedgerows, if it has to be done, can and should be timed carefully and phased.

We tend to think of vegetation in our time frame however trees are much longer lived. Not only does phased work suit their phenology but it also aids the many birds and beasts that rely on them.

Sometimes we seem to want our lives to be in black and white. We can do tree works up until March without question because that is what the Wildlife and Countryside Act says. However as we all know nothing in life is simply black and white.

If you are planning any vegetation management this winter, whether on a large scale contract as part of your job, or simply removing or significantly changing a vegetative feature in your garden. Give consideration to the birds, they are territorial and may struggle to find somewhere else suitable this close to nesting.

If you like birds, remember that you can encourage them into your gardens by maintaining a 'wildlife corridor' through your garden to feeding areas. Vegetation that provides a safe passage between habitats such as hedgerows connecting trees with gardens, increases the number and variety of birds that will visit.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

As an Arborist I get to plant trees for the benefit of the public for generations to come, I also get to see what other people are planting. All sorts of professionals plant trees however with all due respect they are not all tree experts and may not seek advice as to what they can plant and how long it will live.

Planting trees, particularly within our urban environments, has huge benefits for us and the planet. Trees clean our air, cool our air, encourage wildlife providing habitat for birds, bats, foxes, squirrels, badgers and a whole heap of insects. The bigger the tree, the better, for all!

Trees also create calming, natural areas where we can relax and play to get away from the pace of the urban environment and our hectic lives.

It saddens me to see new planting schedules consisting of small trees with short life expectancies. There is room for all tree species but what I am asking is that all tree planters thing a little more long term.

I see too many public highways planted with a few small fruit trees that succumb to vandalism or die when they reach the end of their lives. One by one they are taken out and before you know it the planting pits are filled in and the street becomes treeless.

Trees with greater life expectancies can conceivably exist for hundreds of years, with or without management. Longer lived trees can be interspersed with short term trees to provide diversity but the longer lived specimens will provide a legacy for the future.

Where would we be today if the Victorians had not thought big in their tree planting schemes? Granted their motivation was different however what greater reason can we have for planting trees then to help cleanse out air, regulate our temperatures and keep the birds and beasts in our environment?

So the next time you get to plant a tree, be bold and think big!

Image Credits: BoreMe, Francais 227, NYUEDU,

To see other Blog Action Day posts on Climate Change click here.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Blog Action Day 2009 - 15th October, Climate Change

The 15th October 2009 is Blog Action Day, powered by In their words:

‘Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day on their own blogs with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance. Blog Action Day 2009 will be the largest-ever social change event on the web. One day. One issue. Thousands of voices.’

I have taken part in Blog Action Day for a couple of years now along with my Sister and Mum and it really is an amazing event. This year’s topic is climate change.

I have begun to notice over the past few years while attending seminars and courses that we can be very good at getting together, uniting to a cause and planning action however a period of time elapses, nothing happens and then before you know it we are all sitting there again discussing the same issues and noticing that we didn’t actually take any action.

This day to me is a day of communicating the wish for change on mass across the blogosphere, but it must be followed up by action.

Please take the time to register you blog for this important day, make a post for the 15th that discusses an aspect of climate change that concerns you, and then take a moment to follow the other links and help bring about the change we need, TODAY!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

The Radley Oak Revisited

A few years ago I was privileged enough to inspect this tree, The Radley Oak. It is situated within the grounds of a private boys school in Oxfordshire however a public footpath passes the tree.

The tree has been aged at 1,100 years, which should be easily achievable by English Oaks, Quercus robur, however due to land management techniques such as ploughing up to the bases of trees, and livestock grazing causing soil compaction around trees root systems few are able to.

This is the first time I have seen it in leaf and I was amazed at how healthy the crown is. The tree has extensive heart rot and you can climb inside the main stem and stand up within it.

Amazingly there is no current protection for such trees. The tree survives despite its environmental surroundings. A golf course runs through the grounds and there is a putting green a few feet from the base of the tree. The intensive management of the adjacent grass and compaction caused by people walking over its root system is detrimental.

While visiting I picked up a few acorns that had fallen and intend to grow them.

To give you an idea of scale the next picture shows someone standing next to the tree.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Tree Surveys & Site Safety

I have re-opened the poll for aspects of arboriculture that people are interested in learning more about. Tree biology is still the hot favourite however today I am posting about tree management.

My sister recently asked if she could come out on site with me and bring my nephew so they could better understand what I do for a living. I of course said yes as I love spending time with them both, talking about trees and I am always trying to coax youngsters into the industry!

I have recently been involved with a school group using a woodland I manage as an outdoor classroom and had an opportunity to talk to the group of children aged between 8-9 about trees and some of the really interesting things about them. It was a very rewarding experience and they bombarded me with great questions.

Anyway, I started thinking about my family being on site with me and the best sites to take them to which made me reassess the safety of my working environment so I thought I would post about my role as a tree inspector and cover the safety aspects of that role, and what I do for tree inspections.

I am always aware of the hazards however for myself they are a part of my job that I am used to being aware of and I act accordingly on site instinctively. As a result I am going to visit a non work related public site with my family so that we may take the time to go through inspecting trees without the hazards involved in my daily job.

Site Hazards

The first and most obvious hazard is that I work with trees that can be very large and in a poor condition, I therefore am responsible for assessing the safety of the tree from a distance and then as I get closer before I even start taking measurements and making notes.

Trees may have hanging branches, loose deadwood or be unstable and it is obviously important to ascertain that before I start.

There is also livestock to be aware of, they are generally not dangerous however it is always good to know if they are there and where exactly they are. Being surprised by a bull is not fun, for either of you!

Many of the sites I visit have access constraints either to keep people out or keep livestock or people in! I am pretty deft at climbing a variety of fences with minimal personal harm however I of course carry a first aid kit with me at all times.

There are also numerous safety issues throughout the sites I visit at ground level. Animal waste is a big issue, I usually wear rigger boots which in addition to the steel protection for my feet protect the bottom of my clothes so if I do tread in something it stays on my shoes only. The rigger boots are a personal choice and have shielded my feet from many a nail.

Site maintenance work is common however many jobs seem to be left unfinished and grass grows quickly. There are often uncovered drains and inspection chambers, collapsed utility cables which may or may not be live, curb stones and pitted hard standing, in addition to badger setts, rabbit burrows, areas of bog, deep water!

Site traffic or traffic on adjacent highways is also an issue. Not being on the road does not guarantee that you are out of danger. A colleague of mine was nearly hit by a car loosing control on a highway adjacent to the site he was working on.

The car finished up metres away from where he was surveying however he was paying close attention to the adjacent hazard and managed to move out of the way in good time.

There is also the lone working aspect of my job and I am frequently in remote areas however my company operates an excellent lone working policy which gives me assurance. In addition I often take my two German Shepherds with me and no one is getting anywhere near me with them around!

Linked to this issue is the matter of the public who can respond in a variety of ways when they encounter you. Many people are scared about coming across someone wondering around, I have been accused of many things on site especially when I have my hammer in my hand! Some people are very friendly and like to chat to you about trees, often dog walkers who tend to be out and about enjoying the countryside with their dogs. There is the occasional odd looking person and groups of people enjoying themselves with fires and beers are also best to be avoided. In my experience people out enjoying them selves are rarely a threat and usually very approachable however due to the lone working environment it is best not to take that risk.

And there is finally a small percentage of people who will be annoyed with you for a number of reasons: some suspect you are planning to remove the trees and don't want you too, some want the trees to be removed as they don't want them there, some suspect you are going to build on the site and have strong feelings about that, some assume you work for the council and want to complain about their taxes or the bin collections, some think they have a right to camp on the site and do not like to be approached or spoken to, once you have identified yourself as someone involved in the site management you can instantly become public enemy number one and their reaction to you can be volatile.

It is best to go to site with your own safety foremost in your mind, avoid contact with the public where possible and report issues out of your control to the appropriate department.

We employ security staff to deal with trespassers. They are usually teams of men used to dealing with aggressive people and are appropriately trained for any eventuality. I am not!

Tree Surveys

Following the initial assessment of the site you are working on tree surveying may commence.

There are different types of tree surveys which are dependant on the clients needs and the trees proximity to areas of public usage or utilities.

Most commonly I perform full tree condition surveys which involves me mapping the trees location on a site plan and recording full data regarding their size and condition.

We record the following data for tree identification and condition assessment:

Species, height, stem girth, age class. All trees have a potential size and form specific to their species. They are however also subject to the stimulus of their environment which has an impact on their growth habits. This is an important factor to consider when purchasing trees for planting. It is vital that you are aware of how big they can get and what the form of their crowns is likely to be in maturity.

I have seen many examples of large trees planted in small front gardens which will cause severe issues for the residents who are living there when the trees reach maturity. The favourite for this seems to be Monkey Puzzle trees, Araucaria araucana.

These trees have very attractive and interesting foliage and I often see them for sale at nurseries in among the shrubs with no information about their ultimate size, nor the size of the cones they produce.

Following measurement of a tree we record its structural form and condition. This relates to stem and branch form which may be multi stemmed or single stemmed and includes comments regarding the condition of main branch unions.

My post An Introduction to Tree Biology - How Trees Grow #1 included comments and pictures of trees with tight stem unions that predispose the to structural failure.

The physiological condition of the tree is then assessed from branch tip to root collar. The inspection is made to assess for branch die back which can be indicative of root damage or root and stem disease.

See An Introduction to Tree Biology - Root I & II

The assessment also looks for deadwood, which can also be attributed to root damage or root and stem issues, damaged branches, cracks and splits in branches which may be significant in terms of required tree care or may provide habitat for bats and birds, evidence of any damage to the crown of the tree or evidence of any pests and diseases. Evidence of previous tree management, and development of cavities and/ or decay which can occur at pruning wounds and are noted if significant, any signs of habitat within the tree such as woodpecker holes or bird nests which are always recorded, and the shape and form of the crown which may indicate significant site issues such as prevailing winds or competition for light from adjacent cover or structures.

The foliage of a tree is also assessed in addition to it's annual branch extension growth. The colour of a trees leaves can indicate poor tree health as well as being the site for numerous pests, and extension growth can give an indication of the trees health in this and previous growing seasons.

Once a full assessment of the crown and branches of a tree have been made the stem and root collar are inspected for associated defects such as fibre buckling, cracks and splits, loose or necrotic bark which may be evidence of previous wounding or disease, and any other symptoms of issues such as swelling of the stem, the fruiting bodies of fungus which may or may not be significant.

The ground around the tree is also assessed to check for fungal fruiting bodies, surface roots and possible damage to them, signs of root plate movement, and the condition of the soil or medium the tree is growing in.

Comments are recorded for any significant defects noted with management prescriptions made to remedy any such issues or specify further investigation which may take the form of a climbing inspection, soil testing or even decay detection by means of appropriate equipment.

The environment for each tree is also commented on where significant factors are noted such as livestock razing or ploughing which can be very detrimental to trees, or site hazards which can be significant to any required management such as adjacent structures, areas of public usage or utilities.

There is other data collected during other types of tree inspections such as a pre-development site tree surveys in keeping with British Standard 5837 - Trees in Relation to Construction however this type of survey will be discussed in a separate post.

The number of trees inspected within one working day is site specific however it is possible to inspect between 150-200 trees within an 8 hour period however you have to shift a bit!

Image Credit for Monkey Puzzle Images: The Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh Lets Go Gardening and My Blue Muse

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Tree Planting

The best part of my job is planting trees. It is very hard to convince people to invest in looking after their old trees. Similarly it is hard to get landowners to invest in tree planting and appropriate aftercare to support their survival however many of the mature trees we see and appreciate today were planted by someone, had they not taken the time and the effort what would we have?

These species are some of the trees I have planned for a restoration project during this autumn and winter.

I usually buy containerised trees and will be going to the nursery in July to pick out the specific trees I want.

The nursery are very good however if you leave it until they arrive on site it is difficult to go through them all and make sure there are no issues. Also when you are spending between £80 - £200 on a tree you want to make sure its the best of the bunch.

I went to one of the formal parks I manage yesterday to look at some trees that have been vandalised. They will need to be replaced in the autumn.

While I was there I took some pictures of the trees that have been establishing at the park. Some of these species I will be planting at other sites later in the year. The species shown here in order of appearance are: Giant Redwood or Wellingtonia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara), Blue Atlantic Cedar or Blue Atlas Cedar(Cedrus artlantica 'Glauca') and Giant Redwood again (Sequioadendron giganteum).

Tree planting is, as I have mentioned, the best part of my job and I am looking forward to getting the trees in and watching them develop in the coming years. I will not see them develop into maturity however if other people had not planted trees throughout the last few centuries I would not get to enjoy the mature treescapes I get to walk through. It is a legacy for the future.


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