Caring for Storm Damaged Trees

The combination of heavy rains and gusty winds from the remnants of tropical systems Isidore and Lili took down numerous limbs and branches across South-central Kentucky. Some trees were even toppled over completely last Friday. This resulted in messy yards for many area residents.

According to Jay Dougherty, an arborist with the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, there are steps a person can ensure their trees will stand up to Mother Nature.

He emphasizes pruning as the best method for giving trees better stability. He said this includes clipping off the bottom and inner limbs to help trees stand up against the wind.

One practice Dougherty cautions against, however, is the 'topping' of trees. He says this makes the limbs weaker, making a tree more prone to the elements.

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Caring for Storm Damaged Trees

Homeowners need to keep safety first and to consider the best approach for dealing with damaged trees. Heavy work, including chainsaw work, that cannot be done from the ground and all work on large trees should be done only by a tree care professional.

Loose or loosely attached branches and split trunks are obvious safety concerns that should be taken care of first to avoid the possibility of injuring someone or damaging property if the branch or that part of the tree falls.

Broken but firmly attached branches that pose no immediate danger of falling can be pruned whenever convenient after the more hazardous loose branches have been removed.

Trunks split down the middle are very difficult to brace adequately, and trees with split trunks should be removed or attended to by a tree care professional. When in doubt of the hazardous condition of a tree, consult with an expert for advice.

Trees leaning from root breakage usually do not survive. If a tree tips in a storm, it often means the tree had damaged or poorly developed roots before the storm pushed it over.

Trees bent over, but whose roots are intact may return to their normal positions. If the trees do not pose a hazard, leave them for a few weeks to see if they recover on their own.

Mature trees rarely survive attempts to pull them back into place after being tipped over by a storm. These generally should be removed and replaced with new trees.

Working Around Power Lines

Branches hanging over power lines are a major safety hazard from the standpoint of the person removing the branches. Special training is required to prune branches over power lines safely. Homeowners should not attempt to prune these branches themselves. Contact your local power company to have these branches removed.

Pruning

The only pruning that needs to be done is the removal of broken branches. Branches that have pulled away from the trunk should be removed at the bottom of the split. Avoid causing any additional damage to the trunk. Remove any loose bark, but do not cut into bark that is living and still attached.

Never top trees. Topping creates serious hazards and dramatically shortens the life of a tree. Never use paint or wound dressing. These materials don't help the tree and actually interfere with the tree's wound sealing process.

Do not prune or remove more than you have to. Remove any hazards, but save other decisions on pruning and removals for later. While the damage may look severe at this time, concentrate on how you can save trees rather than making quick decisions on cutting them down.

Keep in mind why you wanted your trees. The trees may still be able to serve that function. Don't be too hasty to remove a tree -- you may decide later the tree was not damaged as badly as you thought.

Source: Web reports


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