Tree management on our streets
Enfield is one of the greenest boroughs in London. It offers a rich environment of mature trees that are both publicly and privately owned.
Trees enhance the look of an area, and help to fight climate change. They also help make Enfield a healthier place by:
- absorbing carbon dioxide
- filtering harmful airborne pollution
- reducing noise pollution
We try to maintain and preserve the trees of Enfield for future generations to benefit from and enjoy. We have an established inspection and routine maintenance programme in place for our streets and other public areas.
We aim to inspect or survey all trees every 3 years on a rolling programme. This means a third of the borough’s trees each year. There are some exceptions, such as densely wooded areas, where surveys are undertaken less often. An inspection does not necessarily lead to a prune, as this is carried out on a risk-based approach and the impact on adjacent structures.
We currently aim to pollard our London Plane and Lime trees along our streets every 4 years. This means a quarter of these trees across the borough are pollarded each year. Exact programmes of pollarding can be affected during seasons of high growth or high demand. We are in the process of revisiting this standard.
Unfortunately there are times when we are unable to meet these standards, especially when there is high demand and limited resources.
Pollarding is the removal of the top of a tree’s crown to a prescribed height to encourage multi-stem re-growth from that point. Although pollarding can sometimes appear harsh, within an urban environment, pollarding reduces risks developing in a mature tree. It allows retention of the tree for a greater period and helps to reduce negative impacts to adjacent property.
Not all trees react well to pollarding, so only London Planes and Lime trees get this type of pruning attention.
All other species of trees along our streets are pruned every 6 years if required. Trees on housing estates (public areas but not gardens) could be pruned less often.
Other types of pruning include crown thinning, crown lifting and crown reduction.
Crown thinning reduces leaf density by selective removal of a proportion of secondary and small live branch growth from throughout the crown. It increases light penetration and air movement within the crown.
Thinning includes the removal of weak thin and sound branches to achieve an even density of foliage around a well-spaced and balanced branch structure. It also includes the removal of all dead diseased and damaged branches.
Crown lifting is the removal of growth from the lower parts of the crown or canopy of the tree, or to a specified height above ground level (2.1 metres over pedestrian footpaths and 5.2 metres over the public carriageway). This will help to ensure clear passage to pedestrians or vehicles using the public highway, or to clear any road signage or street furniture obstructed by a tree’s low growth.
Crown reduction is to reduce the overall height and spread of a tree while retaining a good overall shape and form. The crown of the tree is reduced in height or spread by shortening back branches from their tip to an acceptable point.
The final result should retain the main framework and leave a similar, although smaller, outline.
Basel growth is annual new growth that occurs around the immediate base and up the trunk of the tree. If left unmanaged, it can cause obstructions to the footway, carriageway and site lines.
All our Lime trees, because their basel growth is more vigorous, have a routine annual stemming programme. It is sometimes necessary to complete a second programme in the same calendar year where specific weather conditions promote regrowth.
Notices are put up on trees to notify the public of maintenance works, especially where there may be parking issues. We ask customers to abide by any parking restriction notices. Failure to do so causes delays to work.
We are in the process of updating our Tree Strategy, which will be uploaded onto this website when complete.
Trees in parks and other council sites
Trees in the following areas are generally surveyed every 3 years. They do not have the same planned or routine maintenance as street trees:
- Open spaces
- Council car parks
- Countryside footpaths
- Public rights of way
Either whilst being surveyed or during a responsive inspection, requirements for work will be risk assessed. Work will only be carried out if deemed essential by an arboriculturist.
Other council sites include:
- council owned properties and civic buildings
- educational establishments
- council leisure facilities
- leasehold farms
All tree-related works on other council sites are commissioned on a need to do basis by the relevant service provider.
If you’re a council tenant, you are likely to be responsible for maintaining the trees in your front and back gardens as part of your tenancy agreement. If you have difficulties with this, contact your relevant housing or first response officer.
Trees on private land
If there is a problem with a tree in your garden, this will either be a matter for you as part of your tenancy agreement, or you will need to contact your landlord to report it.
Trees on private land are the responsibility of the landowner. If there is a problem with a tree on private land, you should try to contact the landowner. We can ask landowners to take action if their tree(s) obstructs the public highway.
We can also ask landowners to take action if their tree(s) is likely to cause danger on the public highway, or council owned land or property.
You can report a tree problem (select 'report any other tree problem') and provide all relevant details, including the property address of the tree.
If you are concerned that a tree in your neighbour's garden is dangerous or causing you concern, you should speak to your neighbour. They can employ the services of a private tree specialist, who can inspect and advise.
You are legally entitled to cut back to your boundary any growth from the tree, as long as these works have no negative effects on the tree. You are required to dispose of any cuttings at your own cost if the tree owner does not want them to be returned.
Alternatively, contact Citizens Advice Bureau or seek legal advice. You should also refer to our Tree protection and planning page.
Private road or alleyway
We do not maintain trees on private land. If you are not sure who owns the land, you can contact the Land Registry who can assist in identifying the landowners.
Problems with trees in public areas
Alongside our planned and routine tree maintenance programme, we have a reactive inspection and works process for our streets and other public areas.
When we receive a tree problem report, we will only carry out an unscheduled site visit to inspect the tree if there is a concern of imminent risk or an obstruction to private property. Otherwise, we inspect the tree as part of the routine inspection schedule outlined above.
In addition, all reports are triaged and if an officer thinks there is an imminent risk, we will inspect as quickly as possible.
For other issues, such as an obstruction of private property, we aim to inspect within 30 days. There are times when we receive high volumes of reports or complaints, therefore these site visits can take longer.
If the tree has obvious or inconclusive defects, or any other reasons of concern (such as adjacent structures being adversely affected) the officer will decide whether remedial works are required, or if more intense investigations are needed on the tree.
If a tree is inspected and shows no external signs of a defect, or work is not considered a priority, it may be left until the next routine inspection is due or the officer can plan an additional future inspection.
How long the works will take to complete will depend on the type and amount of works required. We ask customers to abide by any parking restriction notices that might be erected on site or if staff ask you to move your car. Failure to do so causes delays to work.
You can report an emergency tree problem by calling 020 8379 1000 and we will work with a contractor to respond quickly. A tree problem is an emergency if the tree:
- has fallen or is in danger of falling
- has large broken branches
- appears to be dead
- has been hit by a vehicle and been damaged
- has been cut down by residents
We will investigate from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Outside of opening hours our contractors will try to attend an emergency call within 2 hours to make the site safe.
Note: During high winds and storms, we receive high volumes of calls and online reports. If you think the tree is an imminent danger, please continue to call by telephone.
In the event of severe weather situations where many trees are lost at the same time across the borough, we mobilise as many teams as we can. However, attendance times can be considerably longer than usual.
Reports via our website are processed during office hours only, and in the order they are received. If you think the problem is urgent, call us on 020 8379 1000 to report this instead.
How to report non-emergencies
For tree problems that are not an emergency, you should report the problem online.
Before reporting a problem online, you should make sure you have read the relevant information, which might answer your concerns.
Leaf fall clearance
Although we are sympathetic, this is a seasonal issue which we do not control.
If you have concerns about leaf fall on your road, you can report online on our street cleansing page.
Damage to property
If you think a council-owned tree close to your property is causing damage to your building, you should seek guidance from your building insurer.
If you think it is causing damage to any of your property other than your building, such as a boundary fence or wall, email the council’s insurance team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will need to provide evidence to show that the damage was caused by the tree.
If your property has been damaged by pruning work, email email@example.com.
Enfield has a long history of replacing and increasing its tree stock and is continuing to do so.
We attempt to replace every tree that has been lost in line with our tree strategy. Trees are planted in the dormant season, usually November to February each year. This is subject to available funding at that time.
We choose trees to best suit each location using a combination of experience, arboricultural research and professional tree nurseries.
We will not plant a tree:
- directly at the side of a corner property
- where it restricts the accessible width of a walkway to less than 1 metre
- that obstructs street furniture
- within 1.5 metre of a dropped kerb
- within 6 metres of a street light
- in an area that would obstruct the use of disabled parking bays, including wheelchairs or lifting ramps
Please note: the above criterion was implemented by Enfield in the 2009 to 2010 financial year. Any contravention of this criterion before 2009, does not mean that removal will be implemented based on an application of retroactive ruling.
There are some rare occasions where it will be necessary to overrule the above criteria.
All newly planted trees receive aftercare to improve their survival rate. Any tree that dies is replaced within the aftercare period.
Successful planting and survival of a young tree can depend on the aftercare it receives. This is particularly difficult in hot summers, and you can help by watering newly planted trees (PDF, 2271.08 KB).
Additional planting programmes
We are keen to grow our tree stock to support our Climate Action Plan and our commitment to become a carbon neutral organisation by 2030, and a carbon neutral borough by 2040.
For information on tree planting across the borough and how you can get involved, see our climate action page.
You can also suggest where we should plant trees in Enfield.
A healthy tree that is still considered to contribute to its surroundings, will not be removed.
A tree in Enfield is only removed at the discretion of a council arboriculturist, and if it:
- has died
- is dying or in decline and presents a danger to people or property
- has become unmanageable
- has outgrown its location and can no longer be managed with pruning methods
- has reached the end of its useful life within the street scene
- causes a financial liability that cannot be rectified by pruning
- causes a conflict with legislation
- means doing so will have an environmental benefit
- is causing disease or a pest problem that cannot be controlled if the tree remains
There is usually a delay between the tree being removed and the tree’s stump being removed. Stumps will be kept at 1 metre height for safety reasons until a contractor has carried out all relevant utility and other searches, and can remove it. New trees will be replanted where possible.
Tree removal requests
Your tree removal request will be refused unless it meets any of the criteria above.
If you wish to appeal this decision, complete our online report a tree problem form (select 'report any other tree problems’) and provide all details so we can send you an application pack. Please note that there is a non-refundable application fee, (currently £414.30, but subject to change each financial year). If you are successful, you will also be expected to cover the costs for the removal and replacement of the tree, and the aftercare.
We will consult with other residents in the road.
The application process can take up to 2 months. If approved, it can take 6 to 8 weeks for the tree to be fully removed.
Tree and vehicle crossings
If you want to make an application for a dropped kerb for your vehicle and there is a tree on the street outside your property, view our dropped kerb for vehicles guidance notes (PDF, 1352.08 KB).
Please note: if an application involves the loss of, or damage to, a street tree, it is likely to be refused. Refer to tree removal information above.
See our tree protection and planning page for information relating to:
- planning applications
- new developments
- tree preservation orders
- high hedges
- other matters relating to trees and the law