For the trees

DSC_8650-copyElmhurst Gardens by Geoff Wilkinson

Redbridge Council’s Principal Arboricultural and Horticultural Officer Peter Marshall heads up a team responsible for thousands of trees across the borough. With South Woodford’s felled trees being replaced in March, Peter explains the scope of his team’s work. Photo of Elmhurst Gardens by Geoff Wilkinson

Did you know Redbridge Council maintains 40,000 trees and 128 hectares of woodland in the borough? It’s a big job and takes a very special team from Redbridge Council to maintain it all.

The borough’s Arboricultural and Horticultural team – made up of specially trained staff –are responsible for the maintenance of the council’s 21,000 trees on the streets, 19,000 trees in parks, schools, housing and welfare sites, grass verges and shrubs on streets, and assisting with maintaining council woodland.

To ensure the trees stay healthy and cared for, my team carry out annual inspections of all street trees to recommend work to maintain them – and once every three years to recommend pruning work.

Inspections on the remaining council trees in parks, schools, housing, welfare sites and woodlands are carried out on a three-year rotation. Trees in the Wanstead and South Woodford areas are due to be inspected for pruning in 2022.

Trees are usually only removed when they are dead or decayed, in line with council policy. When pruning and felling is recommended, the work is normally grouped by borough wards and completed by the end of March the following year. My team normally fell a tree on the street to a waist-high stump and then return to remove the stump just prior to planting a replacement tree.

Planting is carried out between November and March, and planned street planting in Wanstead and South Woodford is aimed at being completed by March 2021.

In addition, there is also about 160,000 square metres – equivalent to 22 football pitches – of highway grass cut eight times a year, and 20,000 square metres of highway grass cut once a year as part of the Grow Zone project to create wild flower meadows in the borough to improve biodiversity. A quarter of these Grow Zones are in Wanstead and South Woodford.

Highway shrub beds – covering an area equivalent to seven football pitches – are also pruned up to twice a year, depending on the obstruction they may pose to pedestrians and vehicles.

Where weeds grow up in footpaths, kerb edges and shrub beds on the street, my team carry out a spot treatment with herbicide to control growth up to five times a year, as required.

We also work closely with the Neighbourhood Street Scene Engagement team on numerous community projects to spruce up the borough’s neighbourhoods. These have included:

  • Installing railing planters and troughs outside schools and business.
  • The spring bulb giveaway.
  • Tree planting within schools.
  • Community adoption of shrub beds and adopting street tree pits.
  • Working with Trees for Cities, planting new trees in east Ilford and a new woodland near Seven Kings park.

Green spaces improve air quality, boost wellbeing and make the borough look and feel better. In addition, they can provide healthy spaces for wildlife to flourish.

Redbridge is one of the greenest boroughs in London, and we want to make the most of our green spaces so local people can enjoy them now and for years to come. To help achieve this, the council is currently working on a Green Urban Landscape policy that will create a plan for managing and improving council greenery across the borough.

For more information on the work of Redbridge Council’s Arboricultural and Horticultural team, visit swvg.co.uk/trees