Ryland Horticulture Ltd.

The fine art of tree pruning… why is it done so badly?

The fine art of tree pruning… why is it done so badly?

Generally speaking anybody within the arboricultural industry can climb, use a chainsaw and cut back limbs or trim a tree. At Ryland Horticulture Ltd. Tree Surgeons York, we have been doings this for over 40 years. The industry is focused on machinery use, tree climbing, felling and tree dismantling rather than pruning. Companies and the like often consider that once an employee has passed their climbing and chainsaw units that’s it… they can pruned a tree. Sorry but no! if that’s the case why is there so much bad tree pruning around. It would be another discussion to consider what really is bad tree pruning, but in this blog let’s take BS 3998:2010 Tree work-Recommendations as our benchmark.


What is BS 3998 – Tree work about?

Trees are dynamic, continually self-optimizing organisms, they maintain both their physiological functions and their structural integrity. Thus, the often massive structure of a mature tree above ground, consisting of the stem, branches, twigs, and the attached foliage, is highly efficient in intercepting, using, and storing solar energy, while also bearing its own weight and dissipating the potentially damaging forces of the wind.

Below ground, although far less obvious, the extensive root system is equally efficient both in providing anchorage and in pervading the soil in order to absorb the water and mineral nutrients that are essential for survival, growth, flowering, and fruiting.

BS 3998 on tree work gives general recommendations for tree work. It gives guidance on management options for established trees (including soil care and tree felling) and overgrown hedges.

What does BS 3998 – Tree work cover?

The principles of BS 3998 on tree work may also be applied to some shrubs, which can have similar characteristics to trees.

BS 3998 considers the impact of work on an individual tree in relation to neighbouring trees but does not cover the overall management of tree populations.

The need for tree work will sometimes become self-evident to tree owners and site managers in the course of their regular duties. Tree work ideally forms part of a planned program of management, which includes the successional planting of trees well-suited to their surroundings.

Principles for assessing the potential advantages and disadvantages of various aspects of tree work are stated, where appropriate, in BS 3998. Where work is required, it is important for clients to be aware of both the advantages and disadvantages before deciding the course of action to follow.

What are the latest updates for BS 3998 – Tree work?

BS 3998:2010 is a full revision of the standard, which has been updated and expanded to incorporate changes in the law and working practice concerning established trees, especially with regard to:

  • Safety of people and property
  • Decision-making criteria for tree work
  • Wildlife and habitats
  • Veteran trees.

BS 3998:2010 also takes account of underlying issues such as tree longevity, value for local amenity, landscape, biodiversity, and heritage.

So BS 3998:2010 is designed to make us all more respectful of the fact that trees are living and make us think whilst surveying, quoting and working on trees. It’s designed  to make us think of long term implications of our actions on the trees we are working on or specifying work for. Why therefore if we have a document such as this since 1966 and revised in 1989, does this type of pruning still happen?….

A customer has paid somebody to do this to his tree! Not only is it unsightly, it is not within the spirit of BS 3998. Yes, badly pruned trees do generally recover and are still worth retention, but why do this in the first place. There are tree pruning training courses available and in fact NPTC run a tree pruning assessed unit as a qualification. At Ryland Horticulture Ltd. Tree Surgeons York, all staff are fully trained in the art of tree pruning.

002107 – City & Guilds NPTC Level 3 Award in Aerial Tree Pruning

Integrated Assessment

This standard is about carrying out arboricultural pruning operations off ground in trees, carrying out reductions, crown-lifting, re-pollarding, thinning and crown cleaning. You will need to carry out a tree hazard evaluation and perform a ‘working at height’ assessment before starting this work. Access to the tree will be by recognised appropriate methods and in line with the above assessments. You will select suitable pruning tools relevant to the work to be carried out. Your work must meet the requirements of current legislation and current industry guidance. This standard is for those who prune trees off ground.

To prune a tree well, leaving it a natural shape, not a rounded lollipop, is a skill developed over a period of time. Arborists who can pruned trees well are special. At Ryland Horticulture Ltd. our team of skilled and trained arborists can pruned trees well and are special!

Not every tree can be pruned and customers expectations sometimes cannot be met. Educating people as to why trees cannot & should not be pruned in such a way, is an ongoing part of Ryland Horticulture Ltd. Tree Surgeons York, day to day operations in the York area. Often a compromise is reached or we sometimes refuse to do what the customer is asking. Why employ a professional  Arboriculturist and then tell him how to prune your tree. It’s like going to the doctor and telling him your diagnosis!  Dr Google has a lot to answer for!!!

Well pruned and worth the money spent???

Before pruning by Ryland Horticulture Ltd.

After pruning by Ryland Horticulture Ltd. Worth the money spent????

Ancient Tree Forum. Ryland Horticulture Ltd.

If you are interested in trees like we are………

The Capon Tree, a hollow oak near JedburghPhoto: Photo by Chris KnapmanHome > Ancient Trees > What are ancient & veteran trees

Ancient, veteran and other definitions

What do we mean by ancient?
Think of an ancient tree and words that might come to mind are gnarled, knobbly, huge, bent and hollow. These sorts of characteristics are just as important as the actual age of the tree, but the term ancient is applied specifically to trees that are ancient in years. Ancient trees are those which have reached a great age in comparison with others of the same species.

How old is an ancient tree?
The exact age at which you’d call a tree ancient depends on the species of tree and other factors including the type of site where it’s growing.  A birch tree could be considered as ancient at 150 years old, for example, but an oak tree would not be thought of as ancient until it’s at least 400 years old. Yew trees can live for thousands of years, so are not defined as ancient until they are 800 years old. It is often difficult to estimate how old an ancient tree is, but one method that is used, alongside considering the ancient characteristics, is to measure the girth of the trunk (see further information below).

What does an ancient tree look like?
Characteristics of an ancient tree depend on the species, and on factors such as the site and conditions under which they have grown.  However, they have three key features:

  • A low, fat and squat shape – because the crown has retrenched (reduced in size) through age
  • A wide trunk compared with others of the same species
  • Hollowing of the trunk (not always visible)

What is a veteran tree?
Unlike an ancient tree, a veteran tree can be any age, but it is a tree which shows ancient characteristics such as those above. These may not just be due to age, but could result from natural damage, management, or the tree’s environment. Ancient trees are all veterans, but not all veterans are ancient.

What is a heritage tree?
A heritage tree is one that is part of our history and culture, and can be connected with specific historic events or people, such as the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest or the Tolpuddle Martyr’s Tree in Dorset. Other heritage trees may simply have particular appeal because of their appearance, landscape character or architectural setting, and have therefore become well-known landmarks in their local communities. There are also heritage trees such as the Thorpeness Apple, which are valued for their great botanical interest, for example as rare native trees or cultivars of historic interest.

What is a notable tree?
The term notable tree usually refers to a tree which is significant locally, because it is special or particularly large compared with the trees around it. Notable trees are usually mature, but not always; Wellingtonias for example, can appear to be huge even when quite young.

What are champion trees?
A champion tree is one which is the tallest, or has the widest girth, of its kind in a specific area.

Rylands Horticulture Ltd

W: www.rylandshorticulture.co.uk

Tel: 01904 799032

E: rylands@rylandshorticulture.co.uk


Has decking gone out of fashion?

Here at Ryland Horticulture Ltd. York Landscapers, we have designed and built a number of timber decks. As late this area of landscaping appears to have waned! Fashion has always influenced landscape gardening works. From crazy paving in the 70’s, Marshall’s Heritage paving in the 90’s and now to ceramic paving and artificial turf. Sustainability, biodiversity and ecology are the current themes. Minimizing the impact on the planet by using eco-friendly materials and re-cycling. Planting to lock carbon into the soil is also a modern idea. Looking at the current round of Chelsea garden designs, going back to natural planting ie. weeds! appears to be in vogue. For years we have many hours grubbing out hedges, infilling ponds & pulling out weeds, just to put them all back in again!

Below is a series of pictures showing a decked area we constructed for a customer. It was a nice area, well used by the client, with views down to the river. With using good quality materials and treated timber, you will get a long lifespan for your money and with good maintenance this can be prolonged. So still consider decking, even though it may have moved out of fashion. Watch for the comeback!!

Rylands Horticulture LtdW: www.rylandshorticulture.co.uk Tel: 01904 799032E: rylands@rylandshorticulture.co.uk
#yorklandscaper #treesurgeonsyork #treesurgeons #gardenlansdcaping #yorkgardendesigners #gardendesigns #treesurgery

Design & Build Decking area at Leeds.

Ryland Horticulture Ltd. York Landscapers.

Landscape architect designed rear garden area, built by Ryland Horticulture Ltd. at Leeds.

A sloping site, down to a wooded area. Limited access and a complex build. A decked upper area with steps leading down onto a grassed area, with a fire pit garden feature. Under deck planting to give a very natural feel. Galvanized planters placed onto the decking to give some screening from the neighbours. A private garden area which was pretty much unusable, turned into a fabulous garden with major features and a pleasure to be enjoyed.

Rylands Horticulture Ltd: www.rylandshorticulture.co.uk Tel: 01904 799032

E: rylands@rylandshorticulture.co.uk
#yorklandscaper #treesurgeonsyork #treesurgeons #gardenlansdcaping #yorkgardendesigners #gardendesigns #treesurgery

How Ryland Horticulture Ltd. works as landscapers….

This is one of our many past landscape schemes, designed by a landscape architect and built by Ryland Landscapers York.

A total garden overhaul, with new paving, terracing and borders. From a bland and difficult garden to maintain to a new garden with terracing, premium quality hand made clay paving and walling and magnificent border areas ready to be planted by the customer. The initial site survey highlighted problems with the slope of the site, water run off and poor drainage which flooded in heavy rain. The mature Yew tree on site was to be made more of a feature tree for summer shade.

This contract was many weeks of work by a team of four skilled and qualified landscapers, with many years experience. Constant communications took place with the customer and landscape architect as the works progressed. The site was cleared and the ground works put in place. There was many weeks of works that wouldn’t ever be seen, yet was the foundations to a successful scheme. Concrete footings were laid for the walling, stone sub bases for the paving, drainage systems incorporated to move water off the terraced area. All which were eventually hidden from view!

Once these were in place the Rylands team could move onto the construction of the timber terracing and pathways, brick walling and paved areas. The excited customers were keen to see the finished result as work progressed and the garden started to take shape.

The soil was a heavy loam so additives were incorporated in the form of composted wood chip and long life fertilizers to give the planting a good initial start. The border soiling was completed before the finished surfaces were laid on the paths, keeping any mess to a minimum. As the Rylands team worked out of the garden areas, keeping the newly laid areas free from foot traffic, turf was laid and any finishing touched undertaken to leave the newly landscaped garden a joy for the customers to behold. The Rylands Landscapers York team, left the scheme with a wave and a goodbye and the customers smiling faces.

Landscape Planting By Rylands Horticulture Ltd

Landscape planting by Ryland Horticulture Ltd. Yorks No1 Landscapers.
Trees, Shrubs, Herbaceous, Grasses, Bulbs & Aquatics.

Ryland Horticulture Ltd. Landscapers, York offers the supply and planting of all manner of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. This also includes grasses, ferns, bulbs and aquatics. Supplied by local nurserymen, with known provenance and of the highest quality, Rylands Ltd. plant to the highest of current landscape standards and best practice. Using certified nursery stock, any plant losses are usually replaced free of any further charge, as we want successful landscape schemes and happy customers, who can enjoy watching their plants mature.

Here are a few examples of our past completed planting schemes, from initial planting to fruition.

Some of our landscape planting work

Timber Work For Your Garden

Fencing, Trellis, Gazebos, Arbors and all timber work for your garden.

Ryland Horticulture Ltd. can supply and erect any type of timber structure to add form and interest to your garden area. Any type of fencing can be supplied and erected along with trellis work built from sawn timber or rustic poles. Any type of arbor or gazebo can be supplied and built to add to your landscaped areas, providing more enjoyment and usability for your garden.

Rylands quality supplier On the Fence at Strensall, York manufacturers all manner of timber products to the highest standards. Have a look at their web site for ideas and their product range.

Below are some examples of our past contracts, supplying and erecting all manner of timber products.

Some of our landscape, fencing, trellis, gazebo, arbor and timber work.

Getting your garden summer ready

Getting Summer Garden Ready

As the nights get lighter and the weather is heating up, one thing everyone is ready to do is enjoy the garden and soak up the sunshine. 

We are all rushing home from work to light the bbq and lay out on the sun lounger and catch the last few hours of the beautiful weather so it’s worth taking the time to get your garden in summer ready shape, 

Make sure your garden looks gorgeous for the time of year when it really becomes an extension of our indoor living space – another colourful room full of life for everyone to enjoy. 

Here is a list of some things you can do to make your outdoor space look amazing and easy to maintain – which means more time to enjoy the beautiful warm days with friends and family.

Our Advice for a relaxing garden

Love the lawn

There’s nothing like that smell of freshly cut grass, it smells like summer. A neatly mown lawn is a joy to behold in a garden space, so make sure yours is in tip-top condition. 

Here’s some things to stay on top of that lawn, make sure to re-sow the poor patches in your lawn, aerate it to encourage growth and go over the lawn with a wire rake to allow light and water to reach the soil. 

It’s also a good idea to remove any weeds from the lawn, try and get to the root of the weed so it has far less chance of growing back. Remember to not mow less than 1 cm height off your grass – cutting it too short will give you a far less healthy-looking lawn.

Banishing weeds

Keeping weeds at bay can seem like the never-ending task. If you are given or buy any plants, always check them over before you introduce them to your garden, especially woody plants that ground elder, bindweed or couch grass are attracted to. In the lead up to summer, you want your garden looking it’s the best right from the pathways and walkways to the lawn and borders. If you do find you’re losing the battle and have missed the moment to tackle weeds as you find them, you may wish to call in the cavalry with a specifically designed weed control product.

Clearing out the shed

Over a long winter, you tend to stockpile a lot of odd bits which usually results in a chaotic mess that is in desperate need of order. If you love your garden shed then this should be a priority. I usually find the best method of doing this is to follow these simple steps:

  • Remove everything from your shed.
  • Sort all items into groups of ‘keep’ and ‘don’t keep’.
  • Throw or give away everything in the ‘don’t keep’ group.
  • Think about what you have left in comparison to the size you shed, and be ruthless about what to keep if you still have too much.
  • Clean the inside of the empty shed.
  • Place the remaining items back in the shed in a sensible organised order.

Cleaning the summer essentials


Depending on the type of barbecue you have in your garden, it can vary in difficulty to clean and will certainly vary in how much it is affected by harsh winter conditions. If you have a masonry barbecue you will have very little to do, however, you may have to remove any rust that has built up in wet conditions. If you have stored your barbecue away for the winter it might just be a case of a little spring clean and dusting down before inviting the family and friends over for a feast.

Garden furniture

If you have outdoor sofas and other items then you will have to make sure they are pristine for all of your summertime fun. It is recommended to take your cushions off any outdoor seating during winter, but if you forgot this year there are great ways to clean them with little hassle.

Paint and treat the fence

During the winter months, there is likely to be detrimental conditions for your garden fence. Before summer comes it is a great idea to give your fence a revitalised look of colour and health. Use a treatment such as Creosote to give it the extra protection it needs from those hot sunny days.

This all said, summer is definitely the time of year to really kick back and indulge in what you really love doing in the garden whether that be cooking, playing, drawing, sunbathing… all of which is enhanced by the work you do to make it a special place to spend time. The long days of light offer us the chance to really pick our own preferred hour to garden, whether that be 7 am in the morning or 9 pm at night. Do it at a time when it permits you to prioritise what you enjoy the most.

Next year, think about maybe not going away during the summer months because for sure you’ll be missing the best your garden has to give.

What is a Tree?

A tree!

Visualise a 100 year old beech, almost 20 metres high and with a treetop diameter of 12 metres. It’s got 600,000 leaves which convert its base of 120 square metres into some 1,200 square metres of leaf-surface. Due to the physical structure of the leaves themselves, this amounts to a total surface area of 15,000 square metres for gaseous exchange, which equals the area of two football pitches! On a sunny day, this tree converts 9,400 litres, i. e. 18 kilogrammes, of carbon dioxide. With a carbon dioxide concentration of 0.03 % in the air, almost 36,000 cubic metres of air have to flow through these leaves. The leaves also filter out many airborne particles like bacteria, fungal spores, dust and other harmful substances. At the same time the tree evaporates almost 400 litres of water per day and it so doing humidifies the air. Furthermore, through photosynthesis, the tree produces 13 kilogrammes of oxygen, which equals the needs of 10 people. Moreover, the tree produces 12 kilogrammes of sugar on a single day, from which it develops all its organic substances. Some of these substances are accumulated as starch, others are used to build up the tree’s new wood. If the tree is chopped down, because it must give way for a new road or someone has complained about the shade from the tree or just because the space is needed for a new shed, one would have to plant some 2,000 new trees, each with a tree top volume of 1 cubic metre in order to compensate fully for the loss of the tree. The cost of this would amount to roughly £150,000.

Turfing, seeding, lawns and grass areas.

Ryland Horticulture ltd can supply and lay any type of grass seed or quality of turf to provide our customers with what they require. All turfing and seeding is undertaken to the highest current landscape standards and specifications of good practice. Areas are cleared, prepared, fertilized, consolidated and sown or turfed. Staff do not trample all over the turf whilst being laid, but work from boards to protect the surface. A light top dressing and rolling is undertaken to complete turfed areas. Not only can we supply and lay grass turf but also wildflower turf as well. Areas can be maintained by Rylands Ltd if so required.