Maintaining Trees on Private Property
Appropriate tree care is an investment that will offer enjoyment and value for future generations.
Preventing a problem is much less costly and time-consuming than treatment. An effective maintenance program, including regular inspections, mulching and pruning can help detect problems and correct them before they become damaging and irreversible.
An arborist is a tree care specialist. They are knowledgeable about the needs of trees and are trained and equipped to provide proper care to the tree in a safe manner to ensure the health and safety of the tree and its surrounding environment. Pruning or removing trees, especially large trees, can be dangerous work. It is recommended that tree work be undertaken by those trained and equipped to work safely in trees.
Mulching can reduce environmental stress by providing trees with a stable root environment. It reduces competition from surrounding weeds and turf and can prevent mechanical damage by keeping machines such as lawn-mowers away from the tree's base. To be most effective mulch should be placed no thicker than 10cm and cover as much of the area under the tree drip line as possible. When placing mulch, care should be taken not to touch the trunk of the tree as this can cause trunk rot. Organic mulch such as loosely packed shredded leaves, pine straw, peat moss or composted wood chips is suitable.
There are specific reasons for tree pruning to be undertaken, whether it is to remove an identified hazard, form a newly planted tree, maintaining clearances or reduce overhanging. It is important to understand what type of tree pruning is required. This advice can be provided by a qualified arborist.
Pruning should be undertaken with an understanding of how trees respond to each cut, as improper and outdated pruning techniques such as topping and lopping can cause damage that could last the life of the tree and increase the potential for diseases and development - reducing a tree’s life expectancy. When undertaken correctly, benefits include reducing risk of branch and stem breakage, improved health and appearance, and increased flowering.
Pruning of large, mature trees also requires a thorough knowledge of tree physiology and pruning methods. All pruning must be carried out in accordance with the Australian Standard – AS 4373 – 1996 Pruning of Amenity Trees. Pruning large trees can be dangerous. If pruning requires working above ground with power equipment it is best to hire a trained arborist.
An arborist can determine what type of management is necessary to improve the health, appearance and safety of your trees. A professional arborist can provide the services of a trained crew, with all of the required safety equipment and insurance.
A regular tree inspection is a great tool to bring to attention any change in the tree's health before the problem becomes too serious. By providing regular inspections of mature trees (at least once a year), you can prevent or reduce the severity of future disease, insect and environmental problems. During the inspection, be sure to examine new leaves or buds, leaf size, twig growth, and crown dieback (gradual death of the upper part of the tree).
Any abnormalities found during these inspections, including insect activity, spotted, deformed, discoloured or dead leaves and twigs, should be noted and watched closely. Taking annual photos from the same location at the same time of the year can be a great reference for you.
If you are uncertain as to what should be done, report your findings to an arborist, or other tree care professional, for advice on possible treatment.
Choosing an Arborist
Hiring an arborist deserves careful consideration. This information can help you choose the right arborist for your needs, be it tree planting, tree health advice, pruning or removal. Arborists also provide a variety of other tree care services, such as spraying or injecting to control certain insect and disease problems, cabling or bracing for added support to branches with weak attachment and provision of reports for planning, risk management, and tree management plans.
Please note: Residents should first contact Frankston City Council to determine whether there are any controls on the removal or pruning of vegetation on their property prior to any work being undertaken.
Consider the following when selecting an arborist:
- Check for membership in professional organisations such as the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Such membership demonstrates a willingness to stay up-to-date on the latest techniques and information.
- Ask for proof of insurance and then phone the insurance company if you are not satisfied. A reputable arborist carries personal and property damage insurance as well as workers compensation insurance.
- Be sure they comply with Frankston City Council’s local laws or any state laws that govern their work.
- Ask for references to find out where the company has done work similar to the work you are requesting. Don’t hesitate to check references or visit other work sites where the company or individual has done tree work.
- Unless you are familiar with the work of an arborist, obtain more than one quotation. Don’t always accept the lowest quote. You should examine the credentials and the written specifications of submitted quotes and determine the best combination of price, work to be done, skill, and professionalism to protect your trees.
Good arborists will perform only accepted practices. Unacceptable practices include: lopping, removing excessive amounts of live wood, using climbing spurs on trees that are not being removed and removing or disfiguring living trees without just cause. Improper tree care can take many years to correct and in some cases, it can never be corrected.
Most reputable arborists have their clients sign a contract. Be sure to read the contract carefully. Ask questions such as:
- When will the work commence and finish?
- Who is responsible for clean up?
- What does the total price include i.e removal of branches and debris off site, stump removal?
- If I would like more work undertaken, what is your hourly rate?
If an Arboricultural Report is required find out more information on Guidelines for Submitting Arboricultural or Tree Reports
Trees are Good offers further information on good tree care and management.