Try the kindest cut: plea from arborist

By Riverine Herald

AN ECHUCA arborist is issuing a desperate plea to wanna-be tree loppers to leave it to the professionals, and for the professionals to be responsible.

It comes after he has noticed an increasing number of Eucalyptus gum trees having branches lopped — something which can prove costly or even deadly in years to come.

Jacob Murrells (pictured) owns Vic State Tree Services that lops and chops trees in the area, but he said there has been an increasing number of cases where people have lopped branches off trees to get them to grow out.

He said this can cause problems for the tree itself, as it is sent into a state of ‘shock’, is left open to insect infestation and reduces the reach of the roots.

‘‘Tree biology is the same as human biology, get someone who is qualified and knows what they’re doing otherwise if it’s done wrong, it’s going to be more expensive,’’ he said.

‘‘We call it butchering, there’s a 50-50 chance of the tree dying or it bursting out in epicormic growth.’’

In layman’s terms, that means new shoots forming near the cut and growing out. Mr Murrells said that was where the issue lies.

‘‘It doesn’t look appealing, but also the gum tree has dormant buds (under the layers of bark), and so it’s going to try to replace those limbs,’’ he said.

‘‘They won’t be as strong and so when they develop, they have a greater chance of falling — that is dangerous for people’s homes, schools and anyone who might be around the tree when a limb falls.’’

Mr Murrells warned residents against hiring an arborist based solely on cost, as the upkeep of a dangerously lopped tree will cost property owners more in the long run.

‘‘A general rule is nothing greater than a 25 per cent reduction in the foliage — unless it’s dead branches and you’re taking it back to healthy foliage — or it’s a complete removal,’’ he said.

‘‘I have seen local arborists not using the Australian Standard Pruning of Amenity Trees. And it’s because the client wants the tree lopped.

‘‘If the contractor is knowledgeable it’s usually a case of pruning only, otherwise they should walk away.’’

Mr Murrells cautioned ‘weekend warriors’ who may decide to take to a gum with a chainsaw that they would likely cause damage to the tree and could injure themselves.

‘‘Anyone can go in and start chopping without the knowledge, but there’s a reason we spend in excess of $200,000 on equipment,’’ he said.

‘‘To me it’s frustrating. We’re not supposed to be fixing up other people’s work.’’