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Tree stumps can be left in the ground after felling but this can lead to problems with suckering where new shoots arise from the trunk and roots.

Completely dead stumps won’t form suckers, but they can play host to root diseases such as honey fungus, so aren’t worth leaving in and taking the risk.
When to remove a stump
Tree stumps can be physically removed any time. Paying tree surgeons to remove stumps when they are felling the tree is the most convenient way to remove stumps.
Chemical stump killers need to be applied to freshly cut wood, so are best applied immediately after felling. Otherwise, they will need to be recut before the product is applied.
Physical stump removal
This is the best solution. Ideally the stump should be removed entirely, but if this is not possible alternative methods usually give satisfactory results.
For smaller trees the stumps can be pulled out with a winch. These can be hired by gardeners with the knowledge to use them safely. For leverage it is necessary to leave a good sized stub on the stump (up to 1.2m (4ft) high) rather than cutting it off at ground level.

Grubbing out by hand or mechanical mini-excavator removes the majority of the root system. Removal is easiest if trees are cut down so that a significant length of trunk remains to give leverage to help in removal. Landscape contractors are often skilled at stump removal, but you can hire mini-excavators and operators separately.

Alternatively, machines known as stump grinders will mechanically grind out the main root plate, leaving fine sawdust. Although stump grinders can be hired, they are potentially hazardous and are only for gardeners confident that they can use machinery safely. Some roots will inevitably be left in the ground but the majority should eventually rot down.
It is worth specifying how deep you would like the stump ground to. Shallow grinding, 20-25cm (8-10in), is normally sufficient for laying turf, but you should allow for deeper, 30cm (12in), or more if replanting or landscaping. Also think about what you want to do with the sawdust. It can be left to fill in the hole, used as mulch in other areas of the garden, or taken away by the contractors. Specify which of these you would prefer before the work is started and be sure to have any diseased wood removed completely.
Methods to avoid
We do not recommend burning down stumps in situ. They are usually too wet for this. Applying nitrate fertilisers also does not improve their burning qualities, or speed up rotting, even though these fertilisers are oxidising agents.
For advice and to receive a quote please contact Leaf Matters

There are many invasive species in various habitats across the UK and, like any other habitat, woodland has several which threaten the native species found there.
Invasive species are so called because they have a negative effect on the habitat they are growing in. Invasive species can be native or non-native.
In woodlands, invasive species can take over huge areas of habitat, out-competing other species as well as influencing diseases present. Here are a few you might find on your woodland walk.
Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica)
A non-native species, originally introduced into gardens, this plant has rapidly spread across areas of the countryside in the UK.
It is a perennial, which can grow around two to three metres tall and the roots can be several metres deep. It has rounded leaves with a pointed tip, growing in an alternate formation. Due to its robust nature this plant grows in various habitats including along woodlands, roadside verges, rivers as well as wasteland. It also has the ability to grow through concrete.Japanese knotweed dominates areas and out-competes other species. All the plants of this species in Britain are male sterile clones and so do not produce viable seeds. However, it spreads very quickly via rhizomes at a rate of around 10cm each day. A very small fragment of rhizome can give rise to a whole new plant. Less than one gram is able to spark new growth!
Japanese knotweed can be seen across large areas during the summer but when winter arrives the plant dies back leaving the bare earth vulnerable to erosion, especially if it is growing along rivers.Controlling this species is very difficult and a combination of cutting and spraying is often used, although this still takes several years. Disposal also has to be carried out under strict guidelines to prevent any potential growth in other areas. Control of Japanese knotweed costs millions of pounds each year.
Rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum)
Native to parts of the Mediterranean and Asia, this evergreen bush can be considered an attractive plant, with its long leaves and purple flowers. It is however a huge problem in many areas across the UK. It’s able to dominate a variety of habitats, especially woodland, and can also grow well in disturbed areas.Once established, rhododendron out-competes other species and shades out woodland ground flora. It also has toxins which reduce foliage growth of other species and which make it unappetising for grazing animals. It spreads via vegetative propagation and seed dispersal, so is difficult to control as each flower produces several thousand seeds each year.It’s not just Rhododendron ponticum that’s a problem. There are many rhododendron hybrids in the UK. For example Rhododendron x superponticum is a highly invasive species.As well as out-competing other species, rhododendron can also aid in the spread of Sudden Oak Death, which in the UK affects our native larch, rather than oak. The effect of climate change is also likely to benefit this species, as it is native to areas which are drier with a higher temperature, so it may become more of a problem in the future.

Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica)
There is nothing more pleasing than seeing a carpet of native bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) across the woodland floor in early spring, but in fact many of these displays have been invaded by the non-native Spanish bluebell.This species was originally grown in gardens but has escaped and crossbred with the native bluebell. This creates a hybrid which is fertile. Many people do not see this as a problem but it means that the individual qualities of the native UK bluebell are reduced and losing the qualities of a true British flower is very sad indeed.You can tell the two different kinds of bluebells apart by looking at the pollen. The Spanish bluebell has green-blue pollen, whereas the native has white-cream.
Three-cornered garlic (Allium triquetrum)
This plant appears to fit in well with the native flora, with its green, three-angled stem and white flowers but it is non-native to the UK.The plant produces seeds, which are then spread by ants. Growing well on disturbed areas it can be found along woodland edges as well as other habitats such as roadside verges and hedgerows. Even though it is small in size when compared to other invasive species, it produces areas of dense flowers which out-compete native wild flowers, such as violets.Invasive species have unfortunately spread across much of the countryside, often due to irresponsible disposal of garden waste as well as escaping from gardens. Therefore it is important to monitor where these plants are located, and the effect they have on our native flora.

Tree Surgery is a specialist trade and involves far more than someone with a chainsaw. Tree surgeons undergo thorough training in a wide range of fields including chainsaw maintenance, chainsaw use, specialist climbing, aerial rescue, equipment maintenance and arboriculture. The danger to people and property is very high if tree surgeons do not have the appropriate training, experience and equipment.
Unfortunately rogue trader tree surgeons have been operating around the UK for many years. Here are some tips for making sure you don’t get caught out by them and can make an informed choice in choosing a genuine tree surgeon.
Remember tree surgeons have fairly high running costs which need to incorporate Public and Employers Liability insurance which will cover anyone involved in an accident. Rogue traders will have no such costs so may provide a very cheap quote and will not be able to provide an Employers and Public Liability Certificate.
Establish what qualifications they hold. NPTC (National Proficiency Test Council) certificates should be held as a bare minimum and check whether they work to a British Standard.
Always ask for a written quotation before an agreement is made and work is carried out. References are also a great way of having peace of mind.
Rogue tree surgeons can cause damage to people, property and your plants and trees.

In most cases, you do not need permission to plant a hedge on your property but you are responsible for looking after the hedge.
Maintaining your Leylandii hedge right from the start is very important as if it is affecting someones reasonable enjoyment of their property a council can take action under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act (2003).
If part of the Leylandii hedge grows over the boundary (foliage or roots), owners of the neighbouring property have the right to cut it back to the boundary. If you have a hedge and part of it breaks or falls, or if it damages your neighbour’s property, you could be liable for any costs for compensation or repairs. This includes pushing over fences. If a hedge is dangerous or obstructs a public path or pavement, your local council can take action to force you to trim it back.
The Anti-Social Behaviour Act (2003) only applies to:
hedges of two or more evergreen or mostly evergreen trees, not to individual trees
hedges over two metres tall
hedges affecting domestic property
Maintaning your Leylandii will benefit the hedge itself and also prevent disputes with neighbours. Make sure you plant where it will not impact on your neighbours view or block out sunlight.
Trim your Leylandii once or twice a year. Not only will this keep it from obstructing views it will also make your hedge grow thicker and denser. Keeping it under 2 metres will mean it is easier to trim and maintain.
Contact Leaf Matters for more advice.

It may seem tempting to climb a ladder and tackle an overgrown tree yourself, but there are many reasons that calling out a surgeon makes much more sense.


The biggest factor is safety. If you’re not experienced at cutting down trees, especially if a ladder is required, you risk your health and safety. As well as taking a tumble, you risk getting hit by falling branches. A surgeon has the equipment and expertise to know how to chop a tree down safely, no matter how tall it is.

Whether you need to prune or a drastic chop that includes stump removal, there’s more to Tree Surgery than hacking away at branches. A qualified Tree Arborist will use various techniques and methods to safely cut the tree to the desired height and shape, whilst cutting at the right points or angles, to prevent any damage or viruses from entering the wounds. This is particularly important when only a trim is needed, to ensure they remain in a healthy condition.

Crucially, if you decide to cut a tree down yourself, you have the inconvenience of disposing of the branches. A Tree Surgeon will do this for you.

Why not call us here at Leaf matters? If you are needing tree services in Sevenoaks and surrounding areas, give us a call us on 01732 451 351

An overhanging tree from a neighbour’s garden can be a nuisance for all sorts of reasons. It can block out light, inhibit the growth of other plants or trees and drop leaves on your lawn. This frustrating experience can be even worse if you don’t know what to do about it. Fortunately, the law – for once, you might say – is relatively straightforward on this issue, and it leaves (no pun intended) the solution in your hands.

As long as the tree isn’t protected, you’re allowed to prune any branches back to the property boundary. This usually means drawing an imaginary vertical line above your garden fence, with everything that falls on your side being fair game. Make sure you offer any cuttings back to your neighbour – it’s likely this will just be a symbolic gesture, but it keeps you on the right side of the law.

In some cases, this might be a job you can do yourself, but you should consider contacting Leaf Matters for anything involving significant pruning. As professional arborists, we’ll make sure the job is done properly without causing any permanent damage to the tree, your fence or your relationship with the people next door.

Tree by senhormario licensed under Creative commons 4

You’d be surprised at the amount of calories that can be burnt just from a simple day tending to your garden. Harvard Medical School’s research shows that someone around nine stone can burn 150 calories in just thirty minutes of digging, and non-motorised mowing sheds 165 in the same amount of time, and raking the lawn 120 calories. Half an hour of splitting wood can even achieve the same as half an hour of lifting weights.

Squatting while weeding and planting requires a lot of muscle work, as does standing on one leg while pruning, clipping and digging.

Bunny Guinness, award-winning garden designer and co-author of Garden Your Way To Health And Fitness, who was diagnosed with a slipped disc when she was eleven, says, “The wonderful thing about gardening is that, unlike repetitive exercises at the gym, it can provide all over-body fitness – raking, weeding, digging and other gardening tasks all use different muscles and test your body in different ways… It’s best to limit your activity on one thing, so rotate your garden jobs… and, most importantly, stretch, which makes a huge difference to me.”

People with small gardens can make up for it by doing step-ups or bench presses, and rake with both sides, and it is also advised to not use machinery like leaf-blowers, which pick things off the ground so you don’t have to.

Of course you know that watering is important for any form of tree and plant life. But there are various things you need to do to ensure the best care for your newly planted trees.

It is common for people to use too much water; an overly soggy tree can be a drowning tree. Keep them just moist; 30 seconds of a steady follow from your standard garden hose is enough, changing up the diffuser nozzle for each tree. Mulching the soil allows the moisture to keep. Check the moisture by creating a small trench with a garden trowel and touching the soil.

Water a tree soon as you plant it. For the first couple of years, use wood-chip mulch on the soil, and deep water the soil by making sure all the roots are moist. This allows them to establish themselves in the soil quicker, so the tree doesn’t use too much energy. After two years this process will be complete and your tree will be able to deal with a larger range of weather and watering conditions.

Enthusiasts living in areas prone to dry spells would do best with drought-tolerant trees, as they are adapted to prolonged drought periods. They still require the same amount of watering as your standard tree. Likewise, people living in especially wet areas should invest in high soil moisture-tolerant trees.

We at Leaf Matters know full well the joy that comes in maintaining a well-kept and healthy garden, and it seems like the rest of the country agrees with us!
On Monday 11th of April, National Gardening Week will commence its fifth annual festivities of horticultural wonders.

There are plenty of events and open garden viewings going around, and information (as well as tips on how to organise your own) can be found at We’ve listed events local to us here:

Plenty of daily events at the beautiful RHS Garden Wisley, in Woking, Surrey, ranging from tree climbing demonstrations to fitness workouts and a chance to learn from their own gardeners. More info @

Tuesday 12th the Busy Bees nursery at Maidstone Hospital will be spending their time outdoors gardening and planting. More info @

On Thursday 14th between 10:00 and 15:00 Kent Association for the Blind will be holding a workshop at their centre on London Road, Canterbury, on how those have developed eyesight problems can get back into gardening. Tea and biscuits provided, and those with sight loss can get in free. More info @

The National Gardening Week website also has a long list featuring plenty of ways you can celebrate in your own garden, from building bee hotels to caring for wildlife and getting started on your own allotment.

The warmth of the spring sun has awakened the earth and sleepy seedlings are starting to grow, spring flowers are blooming and buds on the trees are bursting out of their protective casings ready to welcome the new season. It’s the perfect time to get ready for the year ahead…

1. Look for tree damage

After the cold and wet winter, you need to check your trees for damage. This might include:

- Holes in the tree trunk
- Decay
- Soft or crumbling bark
- Dead twigs

The weather isn’t the only danger to your trees, you should also check for signs of disease or pest infestation which can wreak havoc on your garden. It’s vital that you inform a professional as soon as you notice any signs of infection, whether by pests or disease, so that the problem can be nipped in the bud. If you’re not sure what you need to look for, a professional arborist will be able to give you advice about which trees need to be treated or removed altogether.

2. Make way for new growth

Whilst checking your trees for damage, it’s a good idea to prune away the dead twigs and branches. It may just be your hedges that need a trim or they may require a more substantial pruning. Dead trees may need to be cleared away and stumps removed to prevent accidents so that new trees can be planted. It’s important that these tasks are done correctly to ensure healthy hedges and trees can continue to grow, so hire a professional who can get the job done effectively.

3. Fertilise and feed

As your trees and shrubs enter the growing season, it’s important to give them the right start. Using a slow release fertiliser will replace nutrients lost over the winter and also ensure that your trees and shrubs develop resistance to damage from diseases, insects and Mother Nature. In woodland, trees and plants gain nutrients from decaying organic materials such as dead leaves and broken twigs, but to maintain the beauty of our landscaped gardens, this debris is often removed leaving our trees and plants without their natural food source. In order to keep plants and trees healthy, these nutrients that have been removed need to be replaced with a good quality fertiliser.

4. Have a check-up

If you are concerned or worried about your plants or trees, it’s important that you contact someone who specialises in their care and maintenance. Ideally you should have a trained arborist inspect your garden at least once a year, and spring is the perfect time as it’s easier to spot potential problems. An arborist can identify hazards, notice things that your untrained eye will easily miss and then deal effectively with the issues you’re having or give you further advice about how to care for your garden.

Based in Sevenoaks we can provide tree surgery services across Kent and these areas

We accept tree surgery enquiries from all these areas

Leaf Matters Professional Tree Surgery Ltd are tree surgeons in Sevenoaks offering tree felling, tree clearing, hedge maintenance, pruning and reducing. We are available for tree planting and advice on tree ecology as well as emergency tree work. Based in Sevenoaks we are happy to offer our tree surgery services all around the Sevenoaks area.

City and Guilds Qualified