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Gardening on a Grand Scale

Posted on 2nd June 2017 by David under Forestry, Gardening, Learning
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Alan Stephens with a trainee on a tree felling course

Alan Stephens with a trainee on a tree felling course

Gardening on a Grand Scale

Tending the average garden is usually a pleasure. Digging, weeding, pruning, mowing and so on are all within the scope of the keen, careful amateur, but there is a branch of gardening that’s much riskier.  Though you may be tempted to tackle it yourself you’d be wise to leave it to the experts.

Jackie and Alan Stephens are just the people you need. Their business, Countryside Training Ltd, was established in Staffordshire in 2002 and their work conforms to British Standards. With a background in agriculture, Alan added forestry to his skills in 1995 in Devon before eventually moving north.

An arborialist is a gardener who looks after trees, and pruning your roses is not quite in the same league as pruning a tree as tall as your house. Get your rose pruning wrong and you may scratch your hand. Chop your tree down without knowing what you are doing and the things that go wrong are the stuff of nightmares. Tree work is dangerous unless it’s done properly. That’s why someone from Countryside Training Ltd is much more than a chap with a chain saw.

Chain saw

A chain saw is very unforgiving if you get things wrong

Countryside Training Ltd offers two distinct services. As their name suggests, they offer training in a variety of countryside skills. They also provide tree management services – gardening on a grand scale.

Darren Allen, the Arboriculture Contract Manager, knows trees inside out. He regularly carries out surveys to assess the impact of trees on proposed building works.

As well as the 26 native species of tree there are many others that have been introduced over the years. Darren knows how to deal with all of them, including the root system – the part you can’t see. Knowing what’s happening underground can be significant: will your tree affect your house foundations? Is it likely to blow down in a storm? How much bigger will it grow? Each type of tree grows differently, and knowing what species the tree is and how it will grow both above and below ground is the key.

Darren, Jackie and Alan

Darren, Jackie and Alan back in the office

Of course, your tree may not need to come down completely. Staff can advise on crown lifting, crown reduction, or general pruning so the tree remains balanced. They also know what the results will look like in a few years time so you end up with a tree that continues to add to the beauty of your garden. Should the tree need to be felled they can deal with that safely.

Bringing a tree down is a science in itself and requires lots of skill. Which way should the tree be made to fall? Do large branches need to be cut off and lowered to the ground first? And what to do with all that wood? Besides which, consider the tools. Chain saws are unforgiving, and can be lethal if not used correctly. Now consider climbing up a tree and working a chain saw from a harness as you cut off branches and lower them to the ground. Get things wrong and disaster is one false move away. What you get when you hire a professional arborialist is someone who has done extensive training and who really understands trees and how to deal with them safely.

Countryside Training equipment

Skilled staff and the right equipment ensure a safe and tidy job

Countryside Training Ltd are qualified to run LANTRA accredited training and refresher courses for chain saw operatives. That’s not all. The
range of courses includes safe climbing and harnessing skills, use of wood chippers, log splitters, and MEWPs (Mobile Elevating Work Platform, also known as a “cherry picker”). Other LANTRA accredited courses can be also be provided. LANTRA is the leading organisation providing land-based training. So you could also learn to operate excavators, tractors, all terrain vehicles, and the safe use of pesticide equipment, to name just a few.

With a full time staff of six plus three part time staff, Countryside Training Ltd has become a well-respected company in the field of tree care and training. Whether you have a single tree in your garden that’s got a bit out of hand or a woodland estate that needs a program of managed care, Countryside Training Ltd is up to the task.

Alan with tree moving equipment

Alan has the skill and equipment to tackle everything from a tree in your garden to a country estate

As for all that wood that they prune, chop up, and remove for their customers? Firewood! If you need a supply of cut logs or kindling for your word burner you know just where to come.



One thought on “Gardening on a Grand Scale”

  1. Christine Thomas says:

    Great informative blog David.
    I am reliably informed Alan is now a little slimmer than int the photograph – not, I hasten to add, anything to do with chain saws

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