Bilsdale Tree Services

Call on: 0796 709 7215

Tree Pruning, Tree Surgery, Tree Care

Tree pruning is the mainstay of our business, and therefore our speciality.

Trees do not heal, they compartmentalise.

Trees can so easily be damaged by incorrect pruning cuts, and the method by which trees close wounds must be understood if permanent damage is to be avoided. Many trees are maimed and eventually die due to the inability to close wounds and prevent infection.

Tree pruning, before.
Tree pruning, after.

Why Prune?

Common reasons for pruning are to remove dead branches, to remove crowded or rubbing limbs, and to eliminate potential hazards. Essentially, pruning is required to maintain safety and aesthetics.

Trees are also pruned to increase light (reduce shade), and as a corrective or preventative measure.

Proper pruning, with an understanding of tree biology, can maintain good tree health and structure while enhancing the aesthetic and ecomonic value of the landscape.

Young Trees

Proper pruning is essential in developing a tree with a strong structure and desirable form. Trees that receive the appropriate pruning when they are young will require little corrective pruning when they mature.

International Society of Arboriculture

Undoubtably the most important thing to consider with young trees is the planting position, taking into account the eventual size and shape. Little trees grow to become big trees. Bad positioning of trees will result in the tree having to be removed or (worse?) mutilated in the future.

Small trees can be trained to grow in many different shapes. Formative pruning can be chosen to create a more compact, upright or open tree.

There are many ways of pruning mature trees to achieve different goals, and these are discussed below.

Crown Cleaning

Crown cleaning is the removal of crossing or rubbing branches, dead or dying branches, and those that are weakly attached or show low vigour. The procedure is beneficial to the tree because diseased or dead wood (which provides food for organisms that start rot and cankers) is removed. Cuts are made which allow the tree to close wounds and prevent infection.

Young tree development

Crown Thinning

Thinning is the selective removal of branches to increase light penetration and air movement through the crown. Thinning opens the foliage and reduces weight on heavy limbs without compromising the tree's natural shape. A tree that has been thinned well should look natural and not 'worked on'.

Crown Lifting

Crown lifting is removal of the lower branches to provide clearance for buildings and vehicles, and to allow light through under the canopy.

Crown Reduction

Crown reduction reduces the size of the tree, often for clearance for utility lines but also to make a tree in proportion with it's surroundings. Crown reduction has limits due to the necessity for cuts to be made at suitable branch unions. Reducing branches too far is detrimental and is known as "topping".

A Note About Pollarding

Tree mutilation is often called pollarding. Removing the crown of a mature tree cannot be called pollarding, it is called topping or mutilation.

Proper pollarding is a fine tree practice that starts when a tree is young and small. Start with a tree which lends itself to pollarding, establish the desired framework. Remove the sprouts every year, taking care not to damage the pollard heads.


Further information

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) publish leaflets on some basics of tree care. These provide a useful guide for people wishing to carry out basic pruning themselves, and give a good background to the practices of tree care professionals.

For further information please see the links page.


Tree Removal, Tree Felling, Tree Dismantling

There are many varied techniques used during the removal of trees, felling being the obvious one. Unfortunately, most amenity trees cannot simply be felled, and therefore have to be dismantled in-situ. This requires a high level of skill and experience to complete safely, and should only be carried out by trained professionals.

At Bilsdale Tree Services, we have the knowledge, experience and equipment to remove trees of any size in a safe and controlled manner.

Please contact us to arrange a visit and a free no-obligation quotation.


Stump Grinding

We offer stump grinding services using our 35Hp remote control Carlton SP4012 stump grinder. The machine is capable of dealing with large stumps, and yet can fit through a 36inch wide gate for garden access.

We offer sub-contract services to various other tree contractors.

Stump grinding costs are based on species and diameter, with a minimum charge of just £70. Please contact us for more details.

Stump grinding

Storm Damage & Windblown Trees

Storm damaged trees can be extremely dangerous. Whole Trees or individual limbs can become propped / hung up, and may require dismantling using rope techniques or in extreme cases, a crane. Having worked on many storm damaged trees, including huge veteran oaks, we are more than capable of tackling any storm damage work you may have.

Storm damage

TPO and Conservation Applications

If you live in a conservation area or have trees subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), then you will require permission from the local council before any works can be carried out. It is unlikely that a tree with a TPO can be removed, and doing so without permission can lead to a £20,000 fine.

Councils tend to be more relaxed about work within a Conservation area, but there are still fines for unauthorised work, so an application will need to be submitted before any works can be carried out.

We normally include the submittal of a Conservation application or TPO application within our scope of work, and there is no additional charge for this service.


Firewood Supplies

Due to very high demand, we are no longer able to accept new firewood customers.

Sorry for any inconvenience.



Hedgelaying is a traditional rural craft that has been carried out for hundreds of years to produce a living stockproof barrier. Before the advent of wire, the only methods available to farmers for keeping their stock enclosed were hedges and walls. Laid hedges were seen more frequently than they are today, because they were an important part of the farm boundary maintenance routine.

These days, hedges are laid more often for aesthetic reasons than as a practical means of enclosing livestock, and hedges laid using grant aid require fencing to protect them from grazing stock.

Hedgelaying is carried out between the months of October and March when the hedge is dormant. Each winter, we lay between 100 and 500 metres of traditional hawthorn and mixed hedgerow. We normally lay in the Midland style due to it's popularity and attractive appearance, although we also lay in the Yorkshire style, which makes use of a fencing rail instead of the willow/hazel bindings which hold down the pleachers.

We are often asked to look at the suitability of hedges for laying, and find ourselves faced with an ancient, gappy hedge that can only be described as a 'relic hedge'. In most cases it is simply not possible to lay hedges in this condition because the timber is too old and brittle and inevitably snaps when laid over. The best treatment is usually to re-coppice the hedge and under-plant with new whips.

For this reason, hedgelaying is not a remedy for badly maintained or neglected hedges, but should be considered part of an ongoing management policy which includes hedge preparation work during the 2 or 3 years preceding the actual laying. This will normally consist of side trimming while leaving the top growth to attain a height of perhaps 12 or 14 feet. Self-seeded trees such as sycamore, ash and elderberry should be removed as they grow too vigorously and compete with the hedge. This kind of preparation work will make for a better and healthier finished hedge and a good stockproof barrier. In this way, hedgelaying can be used as an alternative to fencing.


Tree Planting

Along with hedgelaying, we also plant many hundreds of trees each winter. During winter 2008/2009 for example, we planted over 2000 new trees including 500 oaks sourced from local ancient semi-natural woodland (ASNW). We also established two new orchards and planted many hundreds of metres of new hedgerow.

We can offer advice on issues such as species selection, plant spacing and protection from pests, as well as the management of existing woodlands, underplanting and thinning.