The Kiln-Drying Process

In our line of work, we come across a lot of spare wood that can be put to better use – and making firewood is the perfect way to do it. We’ve sold kiln-dried logs in the Butlers’ shop for years now, providing our customers with quality fuel to keep their homes warm in the winter. With the weather hovering around 0℃, now’s the perfect time to go into the process that makes our logs fit for fire. So, let’s explore what the kiln-drying process involves.

Getting ready

Kiln-drying makes wood much more suited to fire, helping it to light more easily while burning hotter and longer. Before logs can be thrown into the kiln, though, they need to be split up so that they will dry more quickly. It also helps to bundle them together afterward, so they can more easily be taken in and out. Once the logs have been properly prepared, they can be loaded into the kiln.


There’s a few things to keep note of while kiln drying, to make sure that the process works as we need it to. One of these is the temperature the kiln is set to. While a higher temperature means that the logs will dry more quickly, it also makes for a higher fuel cost. Different woods dry at different rates too, so all these factors need to be taken into account when selecting the temperature to heat the wood at. Other things to consider include ensuring the kiln’s supply of fuel stays steady, and that the fans continue to work properly. Assuming everything is functioning correctly, then the entire process should be relatively straight forward.


There are a couple of ways to check that logs have been dried satisfactorily – banging two together should create a hollow sound, and if there’s any doubt then a firewood moisture metre will give a more accurate reading. The drying process will remove bacteria and mould alongside moisture, so it’s important that wood is stored in a clean, dry place to protect it from the elements. Once they’ve been stored safely, we list our logs in our shop in different sizes, so that you can buy them for your own home.

If you’re in need of kiln dried logs, then get in touch or visit our shop. Supply is limited so get in quick!

Tree Surgery Across the Seasons

Trees can be one of the simplest and most obvious indicators as to which season we’re currently in. From the pink blossoming of spring to the barren branches of winter, trees change a lot to suit the weather. While they’re the same trees at their core, it does somewhat change the kinds of jobs we have to do as tree surgeons. Let’s explore how trees change through the seasons, and the impact this has on our work.


In winter months, trees tend to lie dormant. They stop growing to conserve energy, and shed their leaves to be left with just bark and branches. This makes it much easier to see any problems that might have been hidden beneath – which, alongside wildlife being much less active, is why winter is a great season for tree surgery. Their dormancy makes for the perfect time for tree pruning, while the lack of leaves makes it easy to spot potential disease and decay. As a result, the season is ideal for tree removal services.


At springtime, trees start to blossom again as they receive more sunlight and begin expanding their roots beneath the soil. Ideally, significant tree works shouldn’t be performed in the Spring, or it might result in them becoming more vulnerable to disease. However, emergency works will obviously be carried out if needed. Aside from this, early Spring is an ideal time to plant new trees, while existing ones might benefit from a new bed of mulch.


In the summer, we tend to spend more time outside in the warm weather. As a result, people end up looking at their trees more, and spotting potential issues – which in turn leads to the season being tree surgeons’ busiest. The summer tends to be a dryer season, which makes it important to ensure a tree is getting enough water.

While it is species-dependent, many will benefit from trimming in the early summer, once their blooming is over, and others will benefit from routine trimming to remove dead or diseased wood. Summer overall is a great season to assess the overall health of your trees, and is the perfect opportunity to have an expert look them over.


As the season shifts to autumn, the trees start to receive less sunlight and their leaves turn a characteristic yellow and brown. Across this period, they prepare for the dormancy they will experience through the winter, having already lost nutrients from the dry summer weather. As a result, autumn is the perfect time to apply more fertiliser and promote further growth. Likewise, autumn is a good time to prune trees, which also helps with growth, while relieving stress and improving their overall health.

There are many more nuances to how trees function across different seasons and weather – not to mention the differences between species. If you have any questions about your trees, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re here to help, no matter the season.

The benefits of tree trimming

Trimming is a pretty standard process in our line of work – and the reason why is because there are so many reasons to do it. Tree trimming serves an important role in many procedures, from routine maintenance to emergency works. We’re going to explore all the benefits that trimming offers, and why it’s such a common job for a reason.


A basic function that trimming serves is to simply make trees look nicer. It helps them to look neat and tidy, which offers a nice view for the current property owner or for someone looking to buy. Trimming helps to promote blossoming and fruit production too – so if you’re looking to help your apple tree produce more, it’s something you’ll want to consider. It’s especially useful for shaping young trees as they grow – which can prevent them from overhanging or hitting power lines in the future.


This leads into one of the most important roles trimming has in tree care – preventing further damage from happening. Not every tree can be shaped before they start threatening power lines, or begin dangerously overhanging over buildings. In these cases trimming will prevent accidents before they happen, and the high costs resulting from them. Trimming can also help to prevent the spread of disease, if a tree has contracted something. It is a good method of being proactive about tree health and wellbeing.

Overall health

There are other routine trimming operations that can help maintain overall tree health as well. If a tree grows too large, it might not be able to get the nutrients it needs – especially if it suffers a loss of roots. In these cases, trimming helps to keep the tree healthier and thriving. Greater and larger branches also stop other parts of the tree from getting enough sunlight, so trimming helps to distribute it more evenly. This makes it an important part of ensuring a tree can continue to grow and live healthier.

If you need trimming services for any reason, we’d be happy to help. Get in touch with us today.

Why you should leave tree surgery to the experts

So, you’ve got an issue with a tree that needs some surgery. Maybe you’re looking to save money or maybe you think you’d have some fun doing it yourself. Either way, it would be a huge mistake to do it yourself, without any experience or the right skillset. We thought we’d explore what might go wrong if you try doing your own tree surgery, and why it’s in your best interests to leave the job to people who know what they’re doing.

Risk of Injury

There are a lot of risks involved in arborism, and the injuries you might sustain are the biggest reason to not attempt the job yourself. Many jobs involve climbing up trees to get to problem spots, which puts you at risk of falling and injuring yourself. There is also lots of heavy machinery that can get jobs done quicker and more efficiently, but without the proper training they can lead to severe injury. We only rent these machines out with a dedicated supervisor for a reason.

Doing the Job Wrong

Even if you ignore the significant chance you might hurt yourself, without the right knowledge and experience you also run the risk of doing the job wrong. At best this means the tree you’re working on will end up lopsided or generally poor looking – at worst it means breaking the tree irreparably. These are difficult, if not impossible, things to fix, so it’s best to just get an expert in to do the job right, the first time.

Laws & Paperwork

Something important to consider are the laws and regulations surrounding tree work, including the various licences needed to do it properly. For example, tree felling requires a licence to undertake, and chainsaws require a certification to operate. As a result of their work, experts will be fully certified in all the areas their job requires. Even then, there are trees that are protected by a Tree Preservation Order, which means that you need permission from the Local Authority before performing surgery on them. If you’re not careful, you can be fined for cutting a tree that is protected by law, and experts are more than aware of these risks.

If you’re having trouble with a tree, whether it needs removing or trimming, it’s best to leave it to the experts – or you might find yourself in deep trouble. We’re always happy to help – so why not contact us here?

Caring for Trees in an Urban Environment

While trees in an urban environment need all the same nutrients as any other plant to grow, they face some unique challenges. They can be a beautiful and worthwhile addition to any neighbourhood, but if you want to get all the benefits, you need to treat them right. Let’s explore what’s so great about urban trees and how to best care for them.

Benefits of Urban Trees

Beyond brightening up the space between grey streets and buildings, trees have a lot of practical benefits in an urban environment. Fully grown trees provide lots of shade which can otherwise be difficult to come by in towns and cities. They are therefore great at keeping the local area and ground cooler, while also helping to reduce pollution in the air by absorbing carbon dioxide.

They’re also a welcome habitat for all kinds of animals alongside functioning as a sustainable food source for many of them as well. While they might occasionally need a bit of extra effort to care for, it’s more than worth it for these reasons.

The Problems They Face

In an urban environment, trees face unique stresses they wouldn’t ordinarily experience in rural areas. Many have trouble with poor soil quality, whether it be too compacted or lacking in nutrients. They often struggle to get access to the necessary volume of water, while tall buildings can prevent them from getting the sunlight they need.

There is also a larger amount of pollutants in the air of urban areas, which can have a negative impact on a trees’ overall health. These factors compound the problems any tree would face in surviving, like adverse weather and bacterial and fungal diseases.

How to Care for Them Successfully

Understanding the problems faced by urban trees help us get closer to adopting the right solutions. From the very start, it’s important to choose the right place to plant a tree so that it minimises these issues. Some locations might need some work, but it’s worthwhile to ensure the tree will survive for years to come.

The right method needs to be implemented when planting, then afterward it can be beneficial to apply fertiliser to encourage growth. In droughts, a tree will benefit significantly from being watered too, so as long as it is cared for proactively it will continue to prosper.

Trees are a great boon to any urban environment, and even if they take a little extra effort they’re more than worth it. Unfortunately, we understand they won’t always survive – but we’re more than happy to help with removal. You can find out more about our arboricultural services here.

Caring For Your Very Own Fruit Tree

You might have seen the fruit trees blooming this year and were wondering what you can do to get started on your own. We thought we’d take you through some of the best ways to grow a healthy fruit tree. That way, it won’t be too long before you have a fruit tree of your own to provide fresh fruit and brighten up your garden. It’s a shame when we need to cut down a beautiful fruit tree, but with this advice yours is certain to stay healthy for a long time to come.

Starting Out

First of all, you need to decide what kind of fruit you want to grow. Apples are a common choice for good reason, but the climate in the UK is also well-suited to cherries, plums and pears. If you’re willing to put some extra work into your tree, it’s possible to grow some fruits suited to hotter climates too.

Starting off with an older, mature tree can cause some problems. It’s much better to begin with one that’s two to three years old. It will need some room to grow, so make sure it has space to stretch out and get all the resources it needs.

Everything a Plant Needs

Fruit trees need everything a normal plant needs to grow. Since you’re hoping for it to blossom properly though, it might need some special care and attention. You need to make sure the tree has good access to light, and is planted in quality soil. It also needs plenty of water – but to avoid waterlogged soil. For younger trees, it’s best to water weekly from April to September, maybe more in hotter weather. Leaves give a useful signal that a tree is healthy, so if they’re any colour other than green it might indicate that something is wrong.

First Year & Dormant Months

In the first year after planting, it’s best to remove fruitlets as soon as you see them. As tempting as it might be to let the full fruit grow as soon as possible, by removing them quickly you allow the tree’s energy to concentrate on the roots and branches instead. This makes for a stronger, healthier tree in the long run.

From December to March, fruit trees lie dormant. This is the best time to transplant them since it has the best chances of success. For most fruits, this is also the best time to prune the tree – although for stone fruits like cherries and plums, the Spring is better. Treat pruning like surgery, keeping your instruments clean and making sharp cuts, while sealing them properly afterwards.

With this all said, hopefully you’re prepared to take care of a fruit tree of your very own. If you need an arborist to help take care of any of your trees, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

5 British Trees and the Wildlife They Support

Trees are everywhere and are an important part of the ecosystem that we all share. Sure, sometimes they might need pruning or removal, but it’s important to remember that they’re all home to incredible varieties of wildlife. We’d like to break down 5 of the most popular trees in the country, and share all the different kinds of life that they help to support.

1. Ash

Ash trees are home to over 41 varieties of insects, who they provide nectar to. Their seeds are also a popular food for bullfinches, while species like owls, nuthatches and woodpeckers use the tree for nesting. Since they can live for a very long time, deadwood specialists like stag beetles get a lot of support from Ash. On top of this, their leaves are a popular food for the caterpillars of many moth species, such as the coronet and private hawk-moth.

2. Beech

There are loads of creatures that benefit from Beech trees, including the tits, chaffinches, mice and squirrels that enjoy eating their nuts. As well as supporting over 64 associated insects, the canopy that beech trees form helps rare plant species thrive, like coralroot bittercrest and a number of types of orchid. The bark of beech also makes a good home for deadwood specialists like hole-nesting birds and wood-boring insects.

3. Silver Birch

The silver birch boasts an impressive 229 associated insect species, while its seeds are very popular with birds and small mammals. Silver birch trees form a light, open canopy which provides the right conditions for grasses and mosses, as well as bluebells, wood sorrel and violets. The caterpillars of many moth species enjoy munching on its leaves, like the pebble hook-tip and Kentish glory, while older trees make a perfect host to bracket fungi and birds like the woodpecker.

4. Hawthorn

Hawthorn trees have some beautiful colours associated with them, like the heavily-scented white flowers they grow in early spring, which are loved by bees and other insects. They grow bright red berries called haws, which are rich in antioxidants and enjoyed by migrating birds like redwings and thrushes, as well as small mammals like dormice. With 149 associated insect species, the denser thorny foliage of the hawthorne makes fantastic nesting for different birds.

5. Oak

There’s a reason the mighty oak is so iconic, and it plays host to more life than any other native tree. Itsupports two-thousand species are supported by the tree, while 229 depend on it for their survival. Their acorns are enjoyed by many mammals, like badgers, deer and squirrels, as well as birds like the woodpecker and, in particular, the jay. Its leaves and flowers are popular among insects, like the caterpillars of the purple hairstreak butterfly, while birds are in turn attracted to the abundance of bugs. The oak’s bark is ideal for nesting bats as well, while it is home to 108 different types of fungi.

There are many more species of tree across the UK, and this is just a taste of them. Just think of how many more species there are that rely on different types of tree across the world. It’s important that we have a good understanding of the wildlife that trees support, so that we know the impact of cutting them down.

Building a Menage (or Horse Arena)

Butlers are always looking to take on new challenges, so when we got the opportunity to construct a new Horse Arena, or Menage, in Kingsclere, we jumped at it. We had already completed a lot of landscaping and fencing work with the client who offered us the job, so applying those skills to a horse arena seemed like a logical next-step. Unique projects like this are always exciting for us, and having now built our first menage, we’re looking forward to constructing even more in the future.

Getting Started


First things first, you need to ensure you’ve chosen the right location for construction, and that it’s large enough for the project. No one needs to be halfway through building their menage only to realise they’ve put it in the wrong place. Horse arenas can be built upon almost any type of ground, but it needs to be level. If it isn’t, the area will need more extensive excavation which will take up a lot of time and money.

Even more important is making sure it has quality drainage channels for water discharge. Like any other construction project, you’ll need planning permission too – the local authorities won’t be very happy if an unlicensed menage shows up out of nowhere!

Building the base

Once a boundary has been marked out, the construction begins with the excavation process. This removes the topsoil to reveal subsoil, which is what the arena will be built upon. From here, a pattern needs to be dug into the soil that will help pull away rain water for drainage purposes. This is crucial to ensuring the base of the menage will stay functional through to the future.

Once the process is completed, the horse arena is layered with a woven membrane to bring it back to a level plane. On top of this, a sub-base needs to be established to reinforce the drainage system. Usually this is a rock like limestone, but other materials like granite and concrete can also be used.

Finishing up

The final parts of the construction process are the most visible – building the fencing and gates, and laying down the surface. As arborists we know our way around timber like no one else, and have good quality materials to use for the former. These need to be built sturdily and high enough to comfortably contain the horse who will use the menage. Generally, a 3-bar post and rail system is used, with rails contained on the inside to avoid hurting people riding close to it.

Surface-wise, there are a few popular materials, but we went with sand to make for a comfortable landing in case of falls. You might also see wood- or rubber-chip, but in this case, we felt sand was fitting. As a bonus, we also cleared the way for access tracks on this build so people can get to the menage easily!


We’re really happy with how the horse arena came out, and look forward to building even more in the future! If you’re looking to establish a horse arena, we’d love to help out, just get in touch here.

Tree Surgery Waste

 Timber
 Wood Chip
 Other

Tree Surgery tends to result in a fair bit of waste, but that doesn’t stop us from re-purposing it for other uses. This past week Butlers have been chipping up Christmas Trees to raise money for Sue Ryder. We’d like to share with you the journeys that tree chips and other waste might go through once they’ve been chopped off. There are lots of ways we can recycle these different tree parts – and you can even try some of them at home! So let’s launch into the different kinds of waste you’ll find, and what we can do with them.


Tree surgery waste will usually fall into one of three categories: timber, wood chip, and non-chippable waste. Timber is made from the trunks of trees and is usually classified as either softwood or hardwood. It goes through a number of processes to before it becomes used elsewhere. It begins with felling the tree, before transporting the trunk to a site where it can be debarked at cut to a desirable length. The wood is then seasoned to remove excess water so it can be properly prepared for market. Timber is particularly useful for construction, and is used in making everything from fences to buildings. Other trees which can’t be converted into useful timber will be made into logs to be kiln dried and delivered to customers as heating fuel.

Wood Chip

As part of our charity drive for Sue Ryder, Butlers were chipping down old Christmas trees and turning them into wood chip. Wood chips are made by putting trees through a machine called a wood chipper. It’s important to take the right safety precautions when doing so, since the machine can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Different sizes of wood chips are used for different applications, so it’s important to put tree waste through the right chipper for the application you want. Chips work great as fuel for biomass boilers as  well as material for composting. They’re also useful as mulch in landscaping, or animal bedding – truly they’re useful in all kinds of cases!


While the waste from trees can be usefully repurposed for a number of applications, materials like hedge trimmings or saw dust aren’t as versatile. That doesn’t mean you can’t used. Butlers have a composting machine in the yard which turns these products into a useful compost or garden mulch. This can even be used as fertilizer. It’s important to note that even the least-useful waste products can still have a purpose somewhere. The law is quite strict about tree waste, especially for tree surgeons, so we always make sure to clean up after ourselves – and it’s even better if we can put it all to good use somewhere else.

Is it even fair to call all these materials waste when there’s so many great uses for them? One of the greatest things about trees is in all the ways they can be recycled as something else. Next time you find yourself with some waste from gardening, think of all the ways it can be put to use, and make sure if you throw it out that you know it’s going to find a new purpose somewhere else.

Emergency Tree Work

  • Trees fallen due to high winds or a big storm.
  • Trees that are diseased the could fall at any moment.
  • Fallen or falling trees that block important access routes.
  • Trees threatening to fall and damage property or hurt people.
  • Trees that are starting to grow too close to overhead power cables.

Butlers do lots of work making things look nice and tidy; from tree care to landscaping services. For most of these, there’s not a time limit to be wary of, and we can handle them as they come along. Sometimes, though, things are much more urgent. There are many situations where Emergency Tree Work is required, and on these occasions we have to be quick to the scene so that nobody is hurt and nothing is damaged. What makes tree work an emergency, then? Let’s explore exactly what we mean, and what we do about emergency tree work.

Felled trees

One of the big reasons emergency tree work needs to be done is that a tree has fallen over and caused a disruption. There are a few reasons this might happen. Like people, trees are living things and eventually they die of old age. When this happens, they weaken and eventually fall. They might also be diseased, and this has a similar result. On other occasions, they might fall to big storms that knock them over. It’s important to keep track of trees so that if they’re affected by any of these, we can respond in haste.

Blocking roads

If a tree falls over, it may end up blocking important access routes or footpaths. This is one example of a disruption that requires emergency tree work. Butlers have lots of experience in removing fallen trees with speed and efficiency – and have all the right gear to go about it. We remove all the branches and cut the trunk up into smaller pieces to make it more manageable. Chainsaws are the perfect tool for the job – but of course we don’t operate without the correct safety procedure and equipment in place.

Loose branches

In some cases, trees might have loose branches that threaten to fall down and cause some damage or disruption. In these cases, if the problem’s recognised quickly enough we can get in and cut them before they drop. This is another situation where the chainsaw is helpful, but we might also need some specialist equipment to get high enough and reach the branches, like one of our cherry pickers. Both can be dangerous if used irresponsibly, but Butlers always makes sure to do the job right and ensure that loose branches cause no trouble.

Dangerous trees

Speaking of dangerous, blocking important access routes isn’t the worst thing a falling tree can do. If not looked out for, they might cause some serious damage to property or unsuspecting people. That’s why it’s important to be conscious of partially-felled trees that have the potential to cause these issues. Provided we’re not too late, they can be dealt with in much the same way as loose branches, but if not it can be a more difficult thing to clear up. This is some of the most urgent work that needs to be done, but we hope they stay a rare job.

Growing close

It’s not just falling trees that can cause issues, however. If trees start growing too high, it can be a problem if they begin threatening to impact power lines. If the tree is already too close, then power companies need to be notified before we start our work. From here, we cut them at the base and makes sure they fall safely to the ground. If possible, it’s best to avoid planting trees near power lines as well as cutting them down if they grow there incidentally.

If you’re in need of emergency tree work, don’t hesitate to give us a call. It’s best to sort it out before it causes even more issues down the line!