Do I need a permit to cut my trees?

Do I need a permit to cut my trees?

Some trees are protected under Tree Preservation Orders; this means the property owner should obtain the consent of the Council before attempting to fell a tree, or even to prune it. A number of other controls in conservation areas protect a growing number of additional trees. You may be in doubt about the propriety of felling any trees or otherwise disturb in any manner. If you require further information, the best advice is that owners make direct contact with your local council. 

Those who dwell in a Conservation Area all trees in gardens fall into the same category as the TPOs. If given permission then this will override TPOs. If it is necessary to fell a TPO tree to be removed for intended property development, then again permission must be obtained.

Trees lacking the TPO and are outside Conservation Areas; then it is not necessary to require permission for a property owner to fell a tree in the owner’s own garden. Outside that garden, however, one may be required to request a felling licence from the Forestry Commission.

In breeding season, it is also illegal to fell any tree as this could result in the loss of bird nests. As a rule, it is not normally necessary to obtain permission to plant a hedge in a homeowner’s garden. Nor are there any known laws prohibiting the height of a hedge. It is, however, the obligation of the property owner to maintain the hedge in proper health and condition. It must not constitute a nuisance for neighbours.

Permit tree surgery

Am I Permitted to Cut my Neighbour’s Branches?

Is it permissible to cut back overhanging branch(es) that infringe upon your property? Nevertheless, the branches and any flowers or fruit would continue to remain the property of the tree owner and must be returned.

It is important to remember that while they remain the property of the owner of the tree(s), the cut branches may not be simply thrown over the fence into the tree owner’s property. This is considered fly-tipping of garden waste. It is therefore prudent to advise neighbours of any intention of cutting or trimming overhanging branches. 

Permit tree surgery

The owner should be advised that if the cut branches are not wanted, then they will be either burned or removed to a waste disposal site.

It is unlawful to enter a neighbour’s garden to cut branches without first gaining the owner’s permission. Even leaning over the fence to facilitate the removal of an overhanging branch is considered trespassing. Furthermore, cutting a branch beyond the limit of the property, or into the very trunk of the tree, may cause the offender to be liable for damage and/or trespass.

If one believes a tree may be a threat to others or to the owner’s property (if for example it may fall on a greenhouse or is in such poor condition that it is feared the tree may fall on a person), the first step would be to discuss the problem with the owner of the tree. If there is some disagreement about any aspect of the condition of a tree, then the next proper step would be to make contact with the local council.

How much does an Arborist cost?

How much does an Arborist cost?

The cost of hiring a tree surgeon is one of the main aspects why some people don’t take proper care of their trees. In recent years, hiring a tree surgeon is more affordable than ever due to different payment plans and services available. For instance, if you cannot afford a standard one-off fee, you can opt for a pay as you go model depending on the services you are looking for. 

It may seem easy to equip yourself with a chainsaw and call yourself a tree surgeon, but arboriculture is in fact a highly skilled profession which requires years of training in specialist subject and equipment.

There are many factors that can determine the amount of money you can pay an arborist. Here are some of the factors:

1) Size and Location

As a general rule of thumb, large trees cost more to trim because they have more branches, need more equipment and time to trim due to their height. On the other hand, small trees that have fewer branches will cost less, especially if they are located in a place that’s easily accessible.

Trees that are located near power lines or buildings will likely cost more because they need more time and effort to rope each branch down. To ensure that safety precautions are adhered to, the climber ties a rope around each branch and then lower the branch slowly to the ground after it has been cut. This process takes much time and effort, thus a higher cost.


2) Number of Trees

When getting a quote, ensure you include the number of trees and their species so that you receive an accurate quote. The more the trees, the higher the cost and vice versa. The type of tree to be trimmed can determine the cost because some are bushy, others tall while others are just short and easy to trim. If you don’t want any surprises, include all this information when getting a quote.


3) Health

The health of a tree is also a factor which affects the decision to hire an arborist. For instance, a tree that has endured a lighting strike might not be as strong as a healthy tree. Therefore, it requires extra support, e.g. with a cable to guarantee the safety of the arborist as well as other people nearby.


4) Diseases and illnesses

Some of the diseases and illnesses that can affect your tree and increase the cost of maintenance and trimming include:


  • Fungi/mushrooms – since fungi cannot synthesise their own food, they weaken the tree by draining the vital nutrients of the tree
  • Abiotic damage – this can be caused by a number of factors including hail, strong winds and long cold or dry spells. Some signs of abiotic damage include damaged limbs and dehydrated leaves
  • Moist crack – if your tree has a moist crack, it is a sign that the tree might be dying internally and it needs to be assessed by an arborist
  • Pests – although there are beneficial insects, some insects can transmit diseases from one tree to another causing death, rot or even develop fungi

Professional tree surgeons provide a quote after doing an initial survey to determine the scale of work and the costs needed throughout the process. It is important to understand that additional costs might be incurred for hiring needed machinery or removing waste wood after trimming. To avoid such costs, you can discuss with the arborist in advance for a better deal.

Difference in Tree Surgeon and Arborist

Difference in Tree Surgeon and Arborist

Tree surgeon and arborist are job descriptions that are mostly used interchangeably. Some people use one for the other and sometimes think that they have the same meaning. It is true there is a similarity between the two professions. However, there are distinctions between an arborist and a tree surgeon.

Tree surgeons take pride in having the qualification and vast experience in looking after trees and maintaining them. Their work involves mostly climbing and pruning them. However, tree surgeons are not always trained fully in the advanced care of trees. Also, they may not manage many biomechanical and biological issues facing trees and woodland. 

A tree surgeon can comfortably remove a tree stump or branch. They can also do hedge trimming and tree felling. But a professional inspection of the tree and proper management advice necessitate more expertise.

An experienced and qualified arborist, also called an arboricultural consultant, extensively understands early tree failure symptoms. They are capable of providing the right management recommendations. A tree surgeon cannot competently inspect tree condition as well as performing BS5837 surveys thereby assuring tree’s safety. If something goes wrong, a consulting arborist has Professional Indemnity Insurance to cover it.

Tree Surgeon

A Tree surgeon is skilled with safe tree pruning, removing and felling trees, including removing tree stumps. This is not a job that can be performed by anyone with a saw. It is the same way you would never allow your neighbour to operate on you without having practised as a qualified surgeon.

Fully qualified tree surgeons carry out very difficult jobs that are mostly dangerous. They can take on those tasks with precision, care, and professionalism. They must always ensure work is completed safely. For example, felling a tree requires a great deal of accuracy that cannot be attained without adequate training. There are many wrong things that can happen during felling trees such as bringing down surrounding trees when target trees crash into them.

Tree Surgeon


If you consider a tree surgeon as a medical surgeon, then an arborist can be considered as a doctor. The arborist is capable of identifying tree diseases accurately by observing symptoms that are displaying on the tree. They then provide the right recommendations to treat the tree. Treatment may involve passing the tree to a tree surgeon when required.

There are many interactions within ecological systems that make them very complex and vary widely according to the environment. Therefore, forestry agencies and gardeners cannot always mix groups of plants like trees together and expect harmony among them. It’s unfortunate that things cannot work that way all the time.

Arborist John Fryer

There are many similarities and some differences between a Tree Surgeon and an Arborist. An Arborist is trained and qualified to offer expert management and advice in all tree care aspects. In addition to tree work, their job involves evaluation of trees as well as surrounding area. They then perform only minimum tree work required to protect trees and environment as per the British Standards Recommendations.

A tree surgeon is trained to perform work like tree felling and pruning. Tree surgeons offer tree maintenance services such as pruning, tree felling, reducing, and removing dangerous trees from confined areas as per British BS3998:2010 Tree Work Recommendations.

What Does a Tree Surgeon do?

What Does a Tree Surgeon do?

A tree surgeon has many responsibilities related to tree safety and management, including planting, pruning, felling and offering general treatment to care for and maintain trees. Depending on the services a tree surgeon is offering, they should be proficient with a range of tools, be able to work outside in all weather conditions and be physically fit.

A tree surgeon will offer professional advice on how you should take care of hedges, trees and other vegetation in your property. They have a responsibility for safety and care and can get into a lot of trouble for neglecting or failing to fulfil their responsibilities. Besides having an overgrown hedge on your property, there are a number of worse things that can happen:

  • Do you need permission from the council?
  • Do you live in a conservation area?
  • What is the level of risk to you, neighbours and passersby for tree surgery on your property?
  • Are there relevant Tree Preservation Orders (TPO)?


If you ignore any of these things, you might end up in a lot of trouble especially when you break the law. You don’t have to hire anybody who owns a chainsaw or claims to be a tree surgeon without the right qualifications. The services might be affordable at first, but they can be very costly in the long run. Therefore, it is advisable to hire a professional tree surgeon to help you determine the right course of action.


Tree surveys

It is the responsibility of a tree surgeon to carry out hazard assessments and inspections with the aim of assessing the health of trees and if there are any potential dangers. When tree surveys are conducted, they help a tree surgeon to determine the amount of work that needs to be done, how long will the work take and how will the work affect the public (if applicable). If the tree surgeons are handling private work, the survey will determine what’s need to be done, what the client needs, the cost, amount of disruption and estimated time.

Tree Felling

Tree felling is considered a dangerous activity as can lead to damages and causalities. It is the tree surgeon’s responsibility to ensure that they consider all the factors before they fell a tree. This job is very technical because the equipment to be used and the process of felling the tree should be determined before everything commences. Here are some of the things a tree surgeon must consider before making a final decision:

  • The location of the tree
  • Where it will fall when it is finally felled?
  • The best way of felling the tree?
  • The manpower required
  • Equipment and tools to be used


Depending on the location, trees that need to be felled might be very challenging and only accumulated knowledge and skills could be of help. Ensure you hire a professional tree surgeon if you need any of the services we have discussed above.