The recent hot dry spell has seen an increase in the amount of leaves falling from trees – much earlier than the usual leaf drop in the autumn.
This is because trees often form more leaves in the spring than their systems can support later in the season.
The hotter, dryer weather of summer signals plants to drop leaves as a defence mechanism against water loss. They drop leaves to cut water losses and keep the rest of the system going.
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s StreetCare teams have been working to keep the borough’s streets looking neat and tidy and to stop leaves becoming a slip hazard.
They’ve been removing piles of fallen leaves from pathways and kerbs across the borough using mechanical sweepers, prioritising their work to tackle the most affected areas first.
The council says it has also seen an increase in the number of phone calls regarding fallen tree branches… even on calm, wind-free days.
This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as ‘sudden branch drop’ and it happens during hot, calm days and evenings – typically in the summer, during drought conditions.
Tree specialists believe it is related to maintaining or reducing moisture levels within the tree.
Trees release water into the atmosphere through their leaves. However, calm and hot conditions limit how much moisture they can release.
One theory on sudden branch drop is that high humidity increases the moisture content within branches, and eventually causes the heavy branch to fall from the tree.
Cheshire West and Chester Council employs specialist tree officers to inspect and maintain its 28,000 trees to ensure they are in a reasonably safe condition.
If you have any concerns about a Cheshire West and Chester Council tree, please report your concerns using the Your Streets website.
In this instance, a tree officer will carry out an inspection and undertake works where a significant safety concern is identified.
If you have concerns regarding a tree within your ownership, the advice is to contact a reputable specialist to undertake an inspection of your tree.