Television Reception and Trees

Trees can and do have an adverse effect on TV reception. The adverse effect can be reduced or resolved by the choice and positioning of aerials, tree surgery works or a combination thereof.


Effects of Trees on Reception

Evergreen trees have more effect on television signals than deciduous trees. Conifers have a greater effect than evergreen broadleaves.

In winter, when deciduous trees are bare, they have very little effect on reception compared with summer when the same trees are in full leaf.

During wet weather, when the trees are covered in moisture, they can have an appreciable effect on signals.

As trees sway in the wind the screening effect varies, leading to fluctuations in the quality of reception.



Trees can obstruct or deflect the signals creating deep shadow patterns in which reception is difficult.



If the television signal is reflected from trees in such a way that the reflected signal arrives appreciably later than the direct signal, the effect is to produce a delayed image or 'ghost' on the screen.


Engineering Solutions for Poor Reception

These can sometimes be achieved by:

  • mounting the aerial on a pole attached to the chimney stack above the top of the trees
  • mounting the aerial at low level below the branches of the trees
  • using a remote aerial that is clear of the trees
  • using a high-gain aerial, possibly with a masthead amplifier
  • using a good quality low-loss feeder to connect the aerial to the receiver
  • trying alternative positions for the aerial
  • altering the directivity of the aerial

For specific advice, with respect to engineering solutions, please contact an approved television dealer or aerial contractor.


Tree Surgery Solutions for Poor Reception

These can sometimes be achieved by:

  • reducing the length of a lateral branch
  • removing a branch entirely
  • reducing the height of the tree
  • thinning the crown of the tree

Where poor reception is caused by shadowing or ghosting it may be necessary to remove the tree completely.

Any tree work undertaken should be in accordance with best arboricultural practice.


TV Reception & The Law

The TV licence is a permit to operate a television receiver, it does not guarantee any reception and it, therefore, follows that there is no legal right to reception. There are no court precedents in respect of trees interfering with TV reception.

It is unlikely that existing trees on neighbouring land which interfere with television reception are likely to be regarded as a "nuisance" in law. Any remedial work, therefore, should be by agreement with the tree owner and within the statutory controls.


Protected Trees

Some Local Authorities will refuse all applications to carry out work on protected trees in order to improve television reception whilst others may consider the application if:

  • Efforts have been made to find an engineering solution to the problem and have not been successful, and this can be evidenced;
  • The work required is consistent with good arboriculture practice and will not unduly affect the amenity value or the health of the tree.

Please see: Tree Preservation Orders & Conservation Areas



The Effect of Trees on Television Reception by the BBC and ITC Engineering Information Departments and the Confederation of Aerial Industries