What are some external signs of decay?

The most obvious signs of decay include open cavities and areas of exposed decaying wood (e.g. on old pruning wounds or where bark is missing). Less obvious signs which might indicate decay include various kinds of swelling, cracking or stretching of bark or underlying wood. Toadstools and fungal brackets are the reproductive and dispersal organs of many fungi, most of which are harmless or beneficial to trees. Fungi gain nutrients and energy they require by breaking down organic matter – this may be the woody material of a tree, above or below ground. Fungal decay is, however, often very localized, e.g. on areas of exposed dead wood – and does not necessarily impair the mechanical integrity of the tree.

What is an Arboriculturist?

A person who, through relevant education, training and experience, has recognized qualifications and expertise in the field of trees.

How can I treat a dry cavity?

If a cavity is dry it may be cleared of loose rubbish and rotten (soft) wood in order to assess its extent and the need for any further work.

How can I treat a wet cavity?

Water-filled cavities should not be drained, since drilling drainage channels will breach defensive barriers, allowing decay to extend into previously sound wood. Also, the retention of continuously wet and stagnant conditions helps to deter decay.

What should I consider when planting?

1. Height.
  Will the tree touch anything when it is fully grown?
2. Canopy spread.
  How wide will the tree grow?
3. Deciduous or coniferous
  Is the tree deciduous or coniferous? Will it lose its leaves in the winter?
4. Form or shape.
  A columnar tree will grow in less space. Round and V-Shaped species provide the most shade.
5. Growth rate.
  How long will it take for your tree to reach its full height? Slow growing species typically live longer than fast growing species.
6. Fruit.
  You may not want messy droppings on pathways or driveways.

Are there recognised work standards?

Yes. There are standards for tree work which include most of the common operations likely to be carried out. The two main British Standards are British Standard 3998:1989 ‘British Standard Recommendations for Tree Work’ and British Standard 5837:1991 ‘Trees in Relation to Construction’.