Very often when a tree has outgrown its environment, or has got to the stage where it may imminently start shedding limbs, people are reluctant to lose something which may have been a part of the landscape for centuries. Reducing the dimensions of the tree and taking weight off the branches, thereby bringing down the risk of limbs splitting out, is one solution. Reductions are a very important element of what we do, and are considered by many to be the hardest thing to get 'right', in terms of balancing what is good for the tree with aesthetic appeal and customer requirements. We believe this is something that only comes with experience, and for this reason we advise people to make sure they choose a reputable tree surgeon, since a poorly executed or unsympathetic reduction will not only look unsightly, but will also cause long lasting or permanent damage to the tree. It is possible to reduce a tree by up to a third and still maintain a natural shape, depending on the species.
If the tree in question is in a conservation area, or under a tree preservation order, then permission needs to be applied for in order for work to be carried out. This is something we do free of charge, and working in and around the Kennet Valley with its various conservation areas we have a close relationship with the tree officers in the area. Reductions of large trees will generate a large volume of by-products, in the form of woodchip and logs, which we will either leave on site or take away, depending on requirements.
This is a fully grown oak at Lydiard Millicent Primary School which was overhanging three portacabin classrooms. We reduced it by a third and minimised the risk of branches splitting out while keeping a natural shape as far as possible. This was a particularly technical tree not only because of the classrooms below, but also due to various cables running beneath the tree and a large oil tank also in the 'drop zone'. This makes the job more time consuming, since everything must be lowered from the tree, but also ultimately more rewarding.
This is one of the four mature lime trees that we recently reduced as part of our ongoing work for Marlborough College. Two of these were accessible by road and because of this, and because limes are less accessible than certain other species, we opted to use a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP), otherwise known as a cherry-picker, which not only reduces the risk but also the time spent on the job. These trees, also on school grounds, needed to be made safe, and this quarter reduction fulfilled this aim without sacrificing any of the towering majesty that is inherent to large lime trees.