Thursday, 18 February 2016

Little Oak Day

Haven't done one of these in a while (mainly because the last thing I want is any more work to do so don't want to draw too much attention to this:-) ). However I thought today was a pretty typical Thursday,( when I go out and price up work) and here's a few very typical problems that we've been called in to look at. 

 Conifers getting out of hand. Best thing is to keep conifers at the size you want them and keep them trimmed up. Once they've got to this stage all you can do is reduce them and trim in the sides as much as possible (not too far or else they won't grow back- choose Western Red Cedars if you have to go for conifers as they are one of the few conifers that grow back when pruned beyond the existing growth). Once oversized conifers are reduced they are often un-proportioned and the tops are often bare and unsightly from the top window- so not a good thing to neglect them.  Not the best for wildlife but they make good nesting and roosting areas for birds. Good for screening and privacy if needed.
 Another classic- the neglected fruit tree covered in ivy. In storms these are some of the most vulnerable trees to be been blown over (as the crown is so overloaded and the bulk ivy acts a wind sail). Again best to keep ivy (good for wildlife) under control rather than trying to deal with a neglect problem so best to keep it on the trunk and the centre of the crown of a tree and allow enough space for an open canopy. If we removed the ivy (very time consuming and costly) the canopy would be too open, bare and unsightly. The plan for this one is to reduce the ivy and also the fruit tree crown- but take the ivy further back to allow the canopy to re-balance. This was full of birds when I visited (mainly Starlings)- so you could argue just leave it. However if it gets blown over then a great bit of mini-habitat is totally lost  so best to manage it to keep going for as long as possible. The owners here placed the feeders under the ivy tree so great for security for the feeding birds (probably why so many Starlings in such a nice small garden)- no Sparrowhawk can fly through that dense crown.
 Another classic- a pretty typical London sub-urban garden in need of the lawn being trimmed, the borders re-edged, shrubs trimmed up and that's just about it. Plenty of little habitats here- could do with a bit of infilling perhaps for some finer details. The early flowering Prunus in the rear could be an early source of nectar for any early emerging insects. 
 A small pond in need of clearing out. 
An Atlantic Cedar with the problem of branches keep falling off in wind and snow. It's a great back drop to a garden so here we've recommended to unload the branches and thin out the branch density so that the wind can pass through. Cedars are famous for collecting snow (it just sits on the dense framework and often horizontal orientated branches) and the weight of the snow breaks the branches.
Not from today but a job that was finished a few weeks ago that we did in partnership with Earthcare. We did all the tree work and cleared the site and then Paul came in to do the wildlife pond and planting. This is going to look great in a few months when it grows up.

I tried to work out recently how many acres of green space that our company help to look after in this area. We do about 800 gardens a year (approx 500 acres??), help out at Beddington Farmlands and Mitcham Common (1000 acres), various nature reserves (another 100 acres?), a 2-3 mile stretch of the Wandle (??10 acres) and quite a lot of communal estates (say 30 estates of 4 acres of green space- 120 acres). So all in very approximately 1730 acres in a 5 mile radius- under the control of conservationists (some of it secretly! lol). It's also a comfortably profitable business and we plough a lot of the profits into non-profit conservation projects. I would love to chain Little Oak as an autonomous network/franchise but I spend far too much time watching birds and playing my guitar! So always on the look out for business minded conservationists who might want to help out with that. I can't see why it won't work anywhere?

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