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Whether you’re wondering how best to tend to your brand new hedge or other forms of young trees, shrubs or plant life, you’ve probably heard of formative pruning. Formative pruning is a hedge trimming process that is integral to achieving optimal growth for your greenery.

If you want strong, unshaded branches that will grow to a good height and be able to provide sufficient support for potential fruit crops, formative pruning is essential. It is important to tend to both the framework and lateral branches as well as the trunk, to allow them all to develop healthily.

Unlike maintenance hedge cutting that only needs to be carried out once or twice a year, formative pruning needs to be carried out much more frequently – whether you carry out your pruning in winter or spring will largely depend on the type of hedge you’re dealing with.

For more information, LeafMatters are here for all of your needs in the field of plant care and tree surgery. Our services cover a variety of areas from the Midlands to the south of the country, or if you just need some professional advice and consultation, feel free to get in touch for more information.

You’ve probably heard the terms “arborist” and “tree surgeon”, and like many of us, thought that they were pretty much the same thing. After all, they both come out to your home and look at your trees, right? A lot of people don’t know the difference, so it’s time to help clarify the situation.

The technical definition of an arborist is along these lines: an arborist has studied arboriculture, and knows about the establishment and care of trees. Basically, they’re tree experts, who have completed a programme of study, learning how trees grow, and how to encourage – or even discourage – certain behaviours of the tree, with careful cutting and maintenance of the trunk and its branches.

A tree surgeon, on the other hand, does not necessarily have the expert qualifications of an arborist. A tree surgeon will happily chop branches off your tree, but doesn’t know how it will affect the tree in the same way that an arborist would.

The problem is that since “arborist” isn’t a very well-known word, a lot of arborists market themselves as tree surgeons, and don’t do themselves justice. In short, if you want the very best care for your trees, whether that’s cutting them down to size or simply giving them a bit of TLC, you want an arborist. Leaf Matters are professional arborists, and proud of it!

Hedges are commonly used to divide up property boundaries, and there are many great benefits to be enjoyed from using a hedge in this way, compared to having fences.

A hedge is much more aesthetically pleasing than any fence, especially if you choose a type that has berries that flower during the year. It will blend into the landscape much better, because it’s natural. Most importantly, a hedge is a haven for wildlife, so not only does it look more attractive than a fence, but you’ll be helping to sustain birds, insects and other garden critters.

Once a hedge is established, it only requires hedge trimming to keep it at the desired shape or height. Bear in mind, you’ll need to know when you can and can’t undertake hedge cutting – a reputable tree surgeon can advise you on this. Fences, on the other hand, require regular maintenance, which can become expensive. They’ll need to be painted to protect them and stop them rotting, and will need replacing over a period of time. During gales, fence panels are susceptible to getting blown down, whilst a hedge is thick and strong, and much more resistant to damage during harsh weather.

While a number of groups such as the RSPCA have urged people not to cut their hedge during peak bird breeding times, new EU rules specify the time that people can legally carry out hedge cutting.

It is now illegal to cut or trim your hedgerow between 1 March and 31 August, unless you have applied for a derogation from the Rural Payments Agency. The move was introduced to protect some species, but there are some factors that can allow you to trim your hedge during said period.

If your hedgerow overhangs a highway, road or footpath, or if it poses an obstacle to pedestrians or road users, then you are permitted to take action. You may also cut your hedge if parts of it are dead and run a risk to those on a footpath, or if it hampers the vision of road users. You can also trim the hedge if it has been planted in the first six months of the year.

With March looming, it’s important that you get your garden in order and carry out any work before the deadline for hedge trimming. If you are unsure if you can trim during the prohibited times, or if you require assistance, contact Leaf Matters today using 01732 451 351.

Considered as an art form, topiary involves training a perennial plant such as a tree or hedge into a living sculpture, whether it’s a geometric shape or something more fanciful, like an elephant or bear. The practice is believed to have started in Roman times and later spread around the world. The popularity of topiary in the UK probably reached its peak in the 19th century and there are some great examples still to be seen including at Levens Hall in Cumbria, Hampton Court, and Hidcote Manor Garden in Gloucestershire, to name just a few.

Topiary is still found in suburban gardens around the country although less and less so these days, probably because people lead busier lives than ever and even straightforward hedge trimming can be time consuming enough, never mind trying to keep a giant duck in shape! As professional arborists, we do see topiary on our travels occasionally. Evergreens like box, yew, and holly tend to be the most popular type of hedge for training into shapes and, as with all hedges, these should be trimmed once a year, or twice for more vigorous plants. We don’t claim to be experts at topiary, but as part of our hedge trimming service, we’re more than happy to help you keep your hedge in the best possible shape!

Winter is finally drawing to a close and there are a few things you should be doing for your fruit trees.

Don’t let the longer days fool you: Jack Frost isn’t done yet. Spring is a time of new growth, delicate shoots, and fragile flowers, all of which will fall to Jack’s tender mercies. Use frost cloths if it looks like he will be paying a visit.

Comfrey and daffodils make excellent companions for fruit trees. Sow some wildflower seeds among them and you will soon have an understorey lively with bees and other pollinating friends.

Apply a slow-release fertiliser early to aid growth. Spring is the perfect time to apply a mulch. Leave a gap around the tree trunks to prevent rot and apply in a doughnut shape around the tree.

Check the health of your trees and call specialists in for tree surgery or hedge cutting. Install guards around tree trunks to keep critters at bay. Check wooden stakes and supports and replace any that are damaged.

Thinning your fruit will allow the remaining fruit to grow to the correct size. Completely remove all fruit in a tree’s first year to allow it to grow strong and crop well in future.

You might have heard the term “protected tree”, but what does it mean? It’s a term from the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act, which gives legal protection to a shrub, single tree, or group of trees. It doesn’t matter what species of tree or how old they are, they can be covered by a Tree Protection Order (TPO).

Put simply, a TPO means you’re not allowed to cut down, lop or top, uproot, damage or destroy a protected tree. The council must be told of any work you propose doing to the protected tree, and you must wait for their consent, even if the tree is on your land. Doing work on a protected tree can land you with a fine of up to £20,000.

If you live in a Conservation Area, any tree with a stem over 75 mm in diameter is protected, and any work you want to carry out on it, even if that’s just something minor like pruning, needs to be approved by the local council beforehand. They’ll want to know exactly where the tree is, and the details of the work you’d like to do to the tree.

Your local council will most likely have a form on their website which you can print off and fill in if you want to do work on a protected tree. It’s strongly advised that you use an experienced tree surgeon to carry out works on a protected tree, to protect the tree and yourself.

Leaf Matters, based in Sevenoaks and covering nearby London and the whole of Kent, is approved to BS3998, and we’ll be happy to help you with your protected tree.

Hedgerows were once a common feature throughout Britain, but according to the RSPB, we’ve lost over 50% of them, which is why planting one in your garden is a great idea – especially if you want to provide a haven for wildlife. If you already have a hedge, you can add some other species to make it more attractive and appealing to birds, insects, and small mammals such as hedgehogs.

Species to consider planting include wild honeysuckle, clematis, and ivy, while hedge-bottom plants like hedge woundwort, dog’s violet, dead nettles, and garlic mustard will add to the diversity of food and shelter for wildlife. Garden hedges that thrive in the UK include our native trees, so the likes of beech, hawthorn, holly, hazel, and buckthorn are good choices.

Once established, the hedge will become popular with nesting birds as well as other wildlife. Generally speaking, hedges are low maintenance. Make sure you feed the hedge once a year with mulch and water the hedge in long hot spells. Hedge trimming or hedge cutting should be done once a year. You can manage this yourself with a good pair of shears or a hedge trimmer, but for the best result, we’d always recommend getting a professional hedge cutter in to do the job.

Birds and trees go hand in hand, so to speak, and for many people it’s one of the main benefits of having trees in the first place. The trees provide the birds with a safe nesting site to raise their chicks and the birds fill our gardens with birdsong, as well as the opportunity to observe the natural world in our own backyards.

In the UK, a wide range of common garden birds nest in trees, large bushes or hedges, including blackbirds, robins, blue tits, goldfinches, thrushes, and sparrows, to name just some of the more common ones. If you have trees in your garden, you’re more than likely to have birds as well, possibly many different kinds of birds – if you’re lucky!

While birds can be left to fend for themselves in the main, trees do need looking after and if you want to ensure your trees will go on providing a safe home for your feathered friends, it’s worth having your trees surveyed by a professional arborist, especially if you think one of your trees is diseased. Now is the best time of year to carry out any necessary tree cutting before the nesting season – between March and August – gets underway.

Chances are not many of us are thinking about being outside for any length of time at the moment, but before the wet and windy winter gives way to the wild spring storms, it is worth taking a look at the condition of your garden. It may not seem like it at the moment, but pretty soon the evenings will be slightly lighter, the snowdrops will be out, and even some brave crocuses and daffodils might be poking their heads out too.

Take some time now to think about what might need doing in the garden so it is in tip top condition for you to use in the spring and right through the summer.

The recent storms may well have damaged any old trees you have, and if you are in any doubt, you should get a professional tree surgeon to come and make an inspection. Even if there isn’t any damage, you may want to consider having larger trees cut back to make the most of the sunshine and natural light in your outside space.

Now is also a good time to look at getting hedge trimming carried out, as well as any general maintenance and tidying up. Get ready now and look forward to a long happy summer!

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.

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