Trees, hedges, plants and weeds
This section is talking about how we look after the trees we own as a local authority. If you are looking to work on a tree or have a tree enquiry, you can see our planning section on trees and hedges.
We have a responsibility to look after the trees on our land.
We only plant native trees grown in the UK. As those trees are growing, we protect them with plastic spiral guards.
These guards are important in helping to get these small and vulnerable trees established. They help to:
- stop animals from nibbling on them
- make them visible to people and contractors, so they don’t get trodden on
We will be removing these in three to five years, once the trees are large enough to support themselves.
It is not normal practice to water young trees, due to the costs involved. It is normal to expect some to fail and we factor this into the overall large number that we plant.
Hedges and brambles
We cut hedges once a year, between October and March, to avoid disturbing bird nesting season.
We use a tractor flail to cut hedges, as well as hand-held hedge cutters.
Hedges are only cut for safety reasons to ensure branches do not overhang the carriageway or footway/cycleways.
If a hedge that faces a footpath is causing an obstruction, we will cut it back between June and September.
If there are nesting birds, we will not carry out any work on that hedge.
We collect all cuttings from our maintenance of hedges and brambles. We shred, pulverise and compost them and use this material as a soil conditioner.
We prune shrubs between October and March.
If you want to cut back shrubs on council land, you need to contact us to arrange a site visit.
We collect all cuttings from our maintenance of shrubs. We shred, pulverise and compost them and use this material as a soil conditioner.
We do not plant wildflowers.
Wildflower seed mixes often contain non-native species. Our pollinators need the native wildflowers they have evolved alongside. Studies have shown that the seeds in many wildflower seed mixes are not native, despite what the packet might say.
Sowing wildflowers with colourful non-native annuals looks attractive. It can provide pollen and nectar-rich plants for pollinators. But, it has drawbacks:
- it may provide a quick fix for pollinators. It will not support the wide range of invertebrates that feed on native meadow flowers
- they are sometimes called ‘wildflower meadows’ but they aren’t meadows
- mixtures of annual, often non-native species, can be expensive to buy. They can be labour intensive to maintain, and they may need to be sown each year
- herbicides are often used to clear areas before sowing
- planting generic mixes of wildflower seed does little to conserve our native wildflowers. It can also threaten their uniqueness
If you decide to buy wildflower seed, you should source it carefully and only ever plant in your own garden, not in the wider landscape.
Daffodils and planted bulbs
We cut daffodils during the third cut in June.
Even though they look dead, the plant leaves absorb energy from sunlight. They convert that energy into sugar-producing chemicals. This is food that keeps bulbs blooming year after year. If we mow them too early, we stunt their growth, resulting in smaller and fewer blooms the following year.
We carry out weed spraying on paths and pavements four times a year. This takes place around March, June, August, and November.
We use a systemic biodegradable herbicide. The leaves on weeds absorb the herbicide, whilst it degrades on contact with the soil.
Invasive Alien Species (IAS)
Invasive Alien Species are animals and plants that people have introduced into an environment where they do not occur naturally. They represent a major threat to native plants and animals in the local area.
The Essex Field Club holds records for a variety of invasive non-native species. These include non-native plant species such as:
- Japanese Knotweed
- Himalayan balsam
- Floating Pennywort