A few things Michael van de Elzen's learnt about trees
As a chef and a lifestyle block owner, it’s hardly surprising that Michael’s become a bit of an expert on planting and growing things you can eat - like vegetables, herbs and fruit. But he’s also learnt that trees are a super important part of his lifestyle block. Over the years, he’s put in hundreds of trees on his property for shelter, for privacy, for the environment and even for firewood. Ironically, his biggest piece of advice is to get good advice.
So have a chat with your local tree nursery before you plant anything and ask lots of questions. What type of tree is best for your situation? When is the best time of year to plant? Where is the best place to plant? And once you know where you’re going to be planting, Michael always recommends getting a soil test so you know exactly what kind of fertilisers you’ll need to get the best results (you can buy soil testing kits from Farmlands).
If nothing else, Michael always gives his plants a good handful of sheep pellets to kick start their growth. And a handy trick he’s found is to add some water soluble granules to the hole – they’re amazing at keeping moisture around the roots.
Another source of advice for Michael is FMG. And that’s to do with making sure his trees don’t pose a risk to things like fences, powerlines (over and underground), buildings or neighbouring properties. All areas where you could be liable for any damage caused. So it's well worth having a chat with FMG to see what their risk advice is.
Words of wisdom from Michael and Montana
“People need to be careful where they plant. 15% of FMG’s Lifestyle liability claims are from falling branches, or trees.”
Montana knows the risks and how to avoid them
Montana’s one of our specialist lifestyle block advisors from the lifestyle team at FMG. It’s her job to share what we’ve learnt over the years about mitigating the risks on your lifestyle block. And when it comes to something as seemingly simple as trees, there are plenty of watch-outs. For instance, make sure you keep trees well maintained, especially near buildings. Falling branches and trees account for 15% of liability claims on lifestyle blocks.
In the country, power poles, overhead and underground lines and associated equipment may be your responsibility if they’re on your land. So keep your trees trimmed and make sure you use approved contractors in your region to trim trees within 4 metres of overhead powerlines. You can find a list of approved contractors for your region by contacting your power retailer or in the lines company website. More information on lines companies can also be found here.
Be mindful of where you plant your trees too. Underground power lines can be damaged by tree roots, so contact your local lines company before planting or digging.
There are also things to look out for when you’re planting. A common mistake is digging through pipes in your paddocks. Find out exactly where they are before you put a spade in the ground. And make sure you’re not planting too close to neighbouring fences or buildings. If a storm causes branches or even trees themselves to fall, you don’t want to be liable for the damage to your neighbour’s property.
Earlier on we mentioned contractors trimming trees for you. Just be aware that as a lifestyle block owner you have the responsibility to check the paddocks and point out any hazard to contractors that work on your property. 1 in 10 Lifestyle Liability claims involve contractor equipment damage.
For even more tips on lifestyle block insurance, click here.
Want to talk to a lifestyle block specialist?
To chat to a specialist adviser like Montana, call us on 0800 366 466. Or fill out the form below so we can talk to you more about your lifestyle block insurance needs.