RVT Case 5 Copper Beech

In 2006 I was asked by the owner to have a look at his Beech tree and propose some form of sympathetic size management.

One look and the problem is absolutely obvious, it absolutely dominated the front of the house and front garden. Yes, there is a house under there and that house definitely benefits from this very attractive tree!.

Usually I would advise simple crown lifting to create space for the house beneath, but this Is an old pollard so it is perhaps unwise to suggest encouraging upward growth because of the many potentially weak acute forks between the various leaders.Time, for a compromise.

First things first, this tree needed the lower branches removing to alleviate the oppressive imposition of intense shade on the house and residents. I also suggested a RVT of around 20-25% to start the ongoing process of controlling the overall size of the tree.

The tree has outgrown the parameters of the site. It was touching the garage, the neighbours garage and the house.

The telephone wires radiating from the pole (almost lost under the tree) were a minor complication.

This is how it was left in 2006.


Then in 2010 the owner contacted me again. The tree had grown out to about the size it had and he gauged that light levels had reduced to the point where he wanted to do
something about it.

The job was the same days work for a 2 man team including clear up. As the pruning regime preserved the aesthetic charm of the tree while controlling its size it seemed that one such pruning lasted 4-5 years.

On that basis the cost of maintenance to retain this tree in what is effectively “suspended animation” by repeated application of a 15-20% RVT, is about £120 a year on average.

I think this tree add’s £120’s worth of aesthetic appeal to this property a year but the important thing for those owners is that they can quantify that secure in the knowledge that their tree apparently responde very well to it.

So the second application was in winter. It was dark, bitter and a short day and the photographs reflect that I’m afraid but they reveal the brench structure to illustrate the naturalistic branch structure that remains.

Almost done

Before the second RVT

The next day (wouldn’t you know it, sunshine!)

The next images are taken the following June 2011.

The tree has reached or even surpassed it’s optimum size for the site but by applying Reduction Via Thinning of 15=20% every 5 years it can be preserved and enjoyed by my client, his neighbors and the wider community indefinitely.

I particularly like watching this tree perform in wind because the fully formed side branches and leaders sway around like those of a fully natural tree. Of course, in contrast to a full form natural example, the branches sway but the trunk doesn’t. There simply isn’t enough canopy left to apply the force needed to get the whole tree to sway.

The other thing that makes RVT so easy is that it is so easy to see exactly which branches will be removed in 5 years time, and the only question being, to which of the natural pruning points within the canopy, the Arborist doing this next time will use.

I will be documenting the progress of this tree over the coming years I drive past this tree whenever I get chance and it always lifts my day.


A tree and house in uneasy harmony.

The last image that I want to include here is a picture taken in winter 2012 and I want you to see it for one reason.

Bear in mind that this tree has been size managed by applying a heavy 25-30% RVT as as alternative to more traditional pollarding, so in effect, it has been heavily pruned.

Beech are sensitive to pruning because they don’t produce epicormic branches as easily as some species. As a result, they usually react badly to heavy pruning but as you have seen, this tree appears to be a picture of health.

However, there is another test to apply to such trees and you can apply the test yourself as you turn the page by simply glancing at the image before studying what you capture in your minds eye to see if any part of the structures that I have left, jangle with your innate sense of form.

That, as far as I am concerned is the ultimate test of any tree that has been size managed twice in six years.