Badger Sett – Somerset

Our Hi-Line ecology team recently supervised the installation of new underground power cables through a large badger sett, in Somerset.  These essential works were part of a much wider scheme which had been in the planning stages for many years. Unfortunately, several weeks before the work was due to take place, evidence of badger activity was discovered on site. It soon became clear that the badgers had excavated their sett in the path of the underground cables, and with no viable alternative route for them, a solution was urgently needed.

Western Power Distribution contacted our ecologist, who surveyed the site and then applied for a badger licence from Natural England.  As part of the licence conditions it was necessary for the ecologist to supervise the trenching works and to ensure that any tunnels exposed during the excavation were suitably repaired.

The careful removal of topsoil began, followed by gentle scraping away of the earth below which quickly revealed two badger tunnels……. followed by two more……until a total of nine tunnels had been uncovered!  This was far more than anyone had expected and certainly made everyone’s jobs far more complicated.

Once the ducting for the new underground cables had been laid, each badger tunnel had to be carefully reconstructed using heavy duty plastic pipes with an internal diameter of at least 300mm (to allow badgers to pass through them).  This ensured that the sett was not permanently damaged and provided guaranteed escape routes for any badgers sheltering below ground.

After three long days and some expert tunnel construction by the cabling contractors IPS Power, the new improved badger sett was carefully covered over with the original earth.  Let’s hope the badgers approve of their new sett renovations.

Things You Should Never Do When Cutting Hedges

If, like many of us, you’ve had a lot of time to spend in the garden recently, you may have not got round to cutting your hedges – also known as pruning or trimming. Whether you are a seasoned pro or a beginner making do without any hedge services from your tree care company – so in this blog, we look at some ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ when it comes to pruning and trimming your garden hedges helping you avoid these errors if you can!

– Choosing the wrong time

When to cut hedges? Ideally aim to prune your hedges in late winter. This is typically the time when plants are dormant.
When undertaking work on garden hedges it is essential to check for nesting birds, it is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to damage or destroy a nest of any kind while it is in use or being built. Nesting season is usually considered to run from March to August.

With Conifer hedges, trimming later in the season can encourage bare patches, so cut earlier in the season but only after checking for nesting birds.

– Pruning before trimming

Hand pruning is essentially a more accurate version of hedge trimming. New hedges require formative pruning for their first couple of years after planting. Formative pruning is usually carried out in winter or early spring.

– Maintaining oversized shrubs

Some shrubs will typically be too tall or wide for their space. In these cases, your hedge can become unmanageable. It is important to choose plants which are suitable for a hedge, for example Privet, Laurel or Yew as they can tolerate regular pruning or trimming.

Those are some quickfire pointers on the errors to avoid when cutting back overgrown hedges. Need some assistance? Contact our team today for a free no obligation quotation.

Tree work, nesting birds and their protection

The ‘Bird Nesting Season’ is officially from February until August (Natural England) and it is recommended that vegetation works, tree/hedge cutting, or site clearance should be done outside of the nesting season. However, in reality the nesting period may start before this and extend beyond it, in some cases. The busiest time for nesting birds is from 1st March until 31st July and of course varies according to species, etc.

Over the next few months all aspects of the work Hi-Line undertake must be carefully planned to take account of nesting birds. This could result in delays and/or rescheduling work where possible. In our experience most clients are sympathetic if/when works need to be put on hold until the nesting season is over.

On all our worksites Domestic, Commercial or Utility we aim to avoid any impact to nesting birds and infringement of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and breaching the European Habitats Directive 1992/Nesting Birds Directive. However, there are notable exceptions to this. When works are necessary to ensure public health and safety.

It is important to understand that bird nesting season itself does not preclude tree work being undertaken. However, we must remember that all wild birds are protected by law throughout the UK when they are nesting, and it is illegal to kill or injure any wild birds or damage or destroy the nest or eggs. If no active nests are present, works may legally take place.

 What to look for before work starts:

  • Breeding activity on site, including singing, courtship activities or nest building.
  • Potential nest sites
  • Nestling/fledgling feeding activity.


  • Every thick hedge, area of scrub vegetation or mature tree is a potential nest site.
  • Any work carried out must not damage the nests of breeding birds or be in the vicinity of the nests of those specially protected species.
  • To be alert – always check for any nesting activity. If nesting birds are found on site, all works in that area will have to stop. Work will then resume once the birds have completed breeding.

DOIf you think you have found a nest on site, STOP immediately

DON’T – Proceed with any works that might harm breeding birds

To find out more about tree care services, including ecology assessments, contact us today.

COVID-19 -update 25/03/2020

Following recent updates strict new rules on life in the UK have been announced by the prime minister, in order to tackle the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19)

Following the government’s most recent COVID-19 advice and guidance, we have made the decision to send our Domestic and Commercial tree teams home today and our department is now closed until further notice.

As of Tuesday 24th March Hi-Line Contractors – Domestic and Commercial tree Services will be stopping all non-essential tree work operations (except for safety and emergency works only) over the 3 week lock down period that has been implemented by the government.

We are continuing our utility work as instructed by our clients, this is key work in order to keep the electrical lines operational therefore all maintenance and essential work will continue

This decision has not been made lightly and is to help our staff, families and keep the nation stay safe. We really appreciate everyone’s support and look forward to picking up work from where we left off at the end of April. If you have an emergency call out, want to book a quote and/or reschedule your works for when we are back in operation, please get in touch via our website or email: Our friendly staff are still on hand to answer any queries you may have.

We will open as soon as it is safe to do so and if evidence shows this is possible. From all of us at Hi-Line Contractors Domestic and Commercial Tree Team, thank you for all your support and stay safe.

Company Update – Coronavirus

Following our company Update – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Hi-Line contractors takes the health and safety of both our staff and clients very seriously. We are following all daily government announcements and guidance for our staff,  including taking measures such as providing sanitisers in all offices and providing our teams with clear guidance surrounding best hygiene practices.

Although our offices are closed to visitors we are fully confidant we will continue to deliver all elements of services to our customers. With field staff prepared and fully aware of the company guidance outlined within our Company Update – Coronavirus (COVID-19). Quotations and surveying visits can still be made.

Our domestic team are paper free so there is no need to exchange paper or consent forms and our utilities teams are able to accept consent via email. With this in mind should you not wish to meet with one of our team we are happy to put together bespoke plans via email or telephone to meet all of our customers needs. Office staff have been prepared to work remotely should this be required ensuring we can still communicate with our customers in a timely manner to minimise any potential impact.

All staff members will adhere to all guidance and recommendations provided by all clients and third-parties. The measures outlined here and within our company statement have been put into place to limit the potential spread of the coronavirus and we appreciate your co-operation with this.

10 ways to remove a tree stump

Although cutting down a tree may seem like a big task, tree stump removal is usually the bigger issue, which is why it doesn’t tend to be included in the tree removal cost. So, here are six ways you could go about removing a tree stump:

Stump Grinding

If you’re looking to save time, hiring a stump grinder service might be a good idea. It may be the most expensive option, but the job will be completed faster. You can also rent a stump grinder, which often makes sense if you have multiple stumps to remove and you have the training and knowledge to use one safely.

Pulling or Winching

Alternatively, smaller tree stumps can be pulled out with a winch. These can be hired but require training and the knowledge to use them safely. For leverage it is necessary to leave a good-sized stub on the stump (up to 1.2m (4ft) high) rather than cutting it off at ground level.


You can remove a tree stump with just a chainsaw by simply digging around the stump, cutting it as low as possible. Then cut criss-cross slices into the stump 4-6 inches below ground level. Bear in mind that this can often damage or break your chain and won’t get rid of the stump completely.

Grubbing out

Removing a tree stump by hand is a lot of work, but it saves a lot of money. To remove the stump by hand, simply dig out the soil from around the stump exposing the larger tree roots.

Depending on the size of the roots, use loppers, a pry bar and/or a hand saw to cut them into manageable pieces and pull what you can out of the ground, clearing away as much of the root system as possible.

After severing as many roots as possible you should be able to easily dislodge the stump. You may need to use the spade to dig underneath the stump and cut a few more roots under it before you can get it out. The stump once removed, can now be chopped up and added to your compost heap. Some roots will inevitably be left in the ground, but the majority should eventually rot down.

If you happen to have access to a mechanical mini excavator, it makes sense to use this.


We do not recommend burning down stumps in situ, as they are usually too wet to do this straight away. Other things to consider is the time it will take and if it is in a safe place to burn.

A fire pit can be the most practical and fun method. Just put a ring of rocks around the stump and you’ve got yourself a campfire to enjoy for the night. Each time you have a fire the stump will burn down more and more until it is completely gone.

If you’re looking for the safest burning method, using a burn barrel is probably your best option. Just get a metal drum and cut a hole in the bottom, side and top. Place it upside-down on the stump, add firewood to the barrel, and let it burn.


Finally, you could just let the tree stump rot by simply bury it in compost and let it sit for a couple years. Hopefully over time the stump will have broken down enough to then remove it with either an axe or spade.

To find out more about our tree care services, including stump grinding, contact us at Hi-Line today.

When is the best time to cut trees?

When is the best time to cut trees? When it comes to looking after your domestic garden or a commercial site, there are always jobs to be done. From cutting a hedge to taking care your lawn, there is always something which needs attention. One job that is certainly important is pruning trees to keep them in good condition and shape. It is key to know that there is an optimum time during the year to do this, in order to get the best results. But when is this?

When is the best time to cut your trees?

Generally speaking it is best to do this job once the leaves have fallen off in autumn but before new growth appears in spring. It is this in-between stage which is the most sensible time to cut trees back and attend to any pruning which may be required. But why is it best to prune trees during this period?

It really is all about the life cycle of the tree itself and cutting at a time when no damage will be done to it. After Autumn has begun and the leaves have fallen, trees will go into a dormant status where no new growth is happening. The falling temperatures outside also help to play their part in halting any growth in your trees too. By pruning at this point and before spring arrives, you are sure to not damage any new growth which could otherwise have started. Improper pruning can create lasting damage or even shorten a tree’s life.

Why should you prune trees at all?

If all this sounds like a lot of effort then you may wonder, why bother pruning your trees at all? The simple answer is correct pruning, with an understanding of tree biology, can help maintain good tree health and structure while enhancing the aesthetic and economic values of trees within your garden and surrounding landscape.

Because each cut has the potential to change the growth of the tree, no branch should be removed without a reason. Common reasons for pruning are to remove dead branches, to improve form, and to reduce risk. Trees may also be pruned to increase light and air penetration to the inside of the tree’s crown or to the landscape below. In most cases, mature trees are pruned as corrective or preventive measures.

Call Hi-Line today for professional tree management services

If you have neither the time nor inclination to prune your own trees, then call Hi-Line today on 033 345 678 86. Cutting trees is really only a task for the professionals who can use their experience and tree surgeon tools to do it safely. It really is not worth risking personal injury by carrying out work like this yourself. Contact us today for more details on cheap tree pruning and how our experienced team of tree surgeons can help.

Everything you need to know about Ash Dieback

If you own land with Ash trees, it is essential to understand and be able to deal with the consequences of Ash Dieback.

What is Ash Dieback?

Caused by a fungus named Hymenoscyphus fraxineus (historically referred to as Chalara fraxinea), Ash Dieback is a disease that affects Ash trees. This disease causes Ash trees to lose leaves and their crowns to dieback, ultimately leading to the tree dying. Ash Dieback can affect trees of any age, however, younger trees usually die more quickly when exposed to the fungus. The disease originated in Asia, and has little effect on its native hosts Asian and Chinese Ash trees, but can be devastating for European Ash trees as they do not have a natural tolerance or defence against it.

What are the signs of Ash Dieback?

Ash Dieback can be identified by multiple symptoms. Trees that have been seriously affected by the disease will usually show all of the following symptoms…

• Dark patches on leaves that are evident in summer
• Black and wilting leaves
• Leaves shedding and falling early
• Shoot and leaf dieback evident in summer
• Diamond-shaped, dark brown lesions between branches and the tree trunk
• The bark looks discoloured and grey underneath the lesions
• Tree showing signs of stress such as new growth from dormant buds.

What impact does Ash Dieback have?

As the fungus causes leaves to shed, the infected leaves will fall and litter the ground. The Ash leaves will then produce white fruiting bodies which introduce spores into the environment. Due to the wind and other natural factors, the spores can be blown miles away from the infected tree. The spores turn into a fungus and grow inside the Ash tree, blocking its water system and causing its death.

Experts estimate that due to the disease the UK will potentially lose 95% of its Ash trees. This will not only affect the UK’s biodiversity but will cause the UK to lose many of its natural habitats.

Is there any hope for Ash trees?

Some Ash trees may be tolerant to the disease, meaning that over time the Ash tree population may be able to recover. This will only be possible if landowners are vigilant if they spot Ash Dieback.

What to do if you suspect Ash Dieback

If you suspect that any Ash trees on your land are infected with Ash Dieback, immediately collect the suspect leaves and burn or bury them safely to prevent the spores from spreading. Next, contact a tree surgeon UK landowners can count on, such as Hi-Line. At Hi-Line, we are a tree care company that can identify and help manage Ash Dieback. For more information about our tree care services, contact us today!

We’re An Armed Forces Friendly Organisation

We are thrilled to be signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant, by making this pledge we have committed to support those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, by ensuring they are treated fairly.

This includes supporting the employment of those with family in the forces by offering flexibility in working hours and leave around partner deployment; offering support to our colleagues who choose to be members of the Reserve forces; and supporting cadet units in our local community.

Our training team and manager Kirsty McNicol provide a number of training days alongside HighGround, They provide access to a wide range of rural skills and experiences for service leavers and veterans.

You can find out more here.