Tips On How To Repair Storm Damaged Trees
Trees are very pleasant but very hard working inhabitants of any yard or garden. They provide shade and cool relief from harsh direct sunlight. They attract birds and other wildlife. They keep the lawn and soil from washing away. One thing they also do that many homeowners may not often consider: trees add cash value to a property.
Because of the financial gain, it’s economically important to keep all trees on one’s property in tip-top shape. Doing so isn’t such a chore during the warmer months of the year but winter snows and ice storms are capable of causing deadly damage to even the largest of trees. Spring rains cause flood damage and even the warmest summer months are not without threat to trees. Summer storms can be violent, especially tornados and hurricanes, leaving badly damaged trees in their wakes.
Storm damaged trees are best treated with the same respect and precision as a broken bone or other serious injury to a person or pet. These tips on how to repair storm damaged trees will not only provide instructions on repair and recovery but will also make it easier to tell which trees are potential survivors and which ones are better removed. They’ll also point to storm damage that requires the expertise of a pro and that that the average homeowner may be able to tackle personally.
Recognizing the Damage
Damage limited to the smaller, outer branches and twigs of the tree represents minor damage that a handy homeowner can do but there are a few basic pruning skills to master for highest rate of tree survival. Trimming or pruning the wrong way can cause as much damage as the storm itself.
When more serious damage affects the core of the tree, along its trunk or in the largest branches giving the tree shape and structure, a professional evaluation is probably in order. Little trim jobs require a mastery of skills but large-scale damage is a science. Consult a professional tree service before removing anything that isn’t threatening harm to people or property.
Treating the Tree
Before making a single cut or call, gain full understanding of the situation. Climb up and see what the damage looks like from all angles and throughout the entire tree. Assess your comfort level for working high off the ground, wielding climbing gear and a chain saw, while working with very heavy falling lumber.
While in the canopy’s midst, develop a strategy for cutting. The tree is more likely to survive if the treatment returns the tree to a similar shape and structure as it was before the storm.
If will, skill, time, and equipment are lacking, call the pros. Get on-site estimates and compare services and prices from several competitive tree companies. Google companies of interest and find their ratings and reviews at the local chapter of the Better Business Bureau.
To do it yourself (DIY), research the specific operations you expect to perform. Make sure you have suitable tools and skill level.
Do nothing before locating overhead lines for utilities providers. Any time a tree branch touches a power line after a storm, the risk of electrocution and fire rises dramatically. Call 911 or your utility company’s emergency hotline immediately and DO NOT TOUCH the tree, utility equipment, or anything touching them until the emergency response crew declares it safe to do so.
Always make as clean (sharp) a cut as possible no matter what tool is in use. The cleaner the cut, the faster the healing, and the more likely the tree will thrive once again.
Handle branches three inches in diameter differently than larger ones. The smaller branches can often be removed with a pole pruner or pruning shears.
Larger branches call for power tools. Use them properly, with a safety rope and harness attached, for optimum safety.
Learn the 3-cut procedure of trimming large branches. It produces less physical trauma to the tree and increases the tree’s chance of surviving.
Bark is a protective coating for the tree much like skin is for animals. Damage here must be treated delicately. Never cut away more bark than is needed. Instead, trim just to the point where the bark is still firmly attached to the wood underneath.
Keep all cuts into the bark shallow enough to miss the wood below it. Trim away bark in an elliptical shape and keep all tracings as narrow as possible.
It’s always best to call the professionals when a tree is split down the main trunk or major branches are ripped loose. This is a serious wound and the tree may not survive. Nevertheless, there are measures that can be taken to influence survival and sometimes trees that sustain the most violent splits are restored to health and beauty. Wood is tremendously heavy; only heavy equipment and very well-trained professional workers can safely move it.
Tree doctors disagree on the benefit of applying healing ointments to wounds larger than one and one-half inches in diameter. Some say such dressings or paints speed healing and leave a cleaner scar. Others say it prevents drying and speeds the healing process, thereby reducing the risk of infection or infestation by destructive microbes. Explore options, using case studies that involve trees of the same species that need repair.
Survival here depends on the size of the tree and how much of the root ball remains intact.
Trees taller than 25 feet probably won’t survive, no matter how heroic the effort. Have them cut into lumber for recycling or removal as soon as possible.
Smaller trees sometimes survive when about half the root ball is still firmly affixed to the ground. After returning the tree to an upright position, guy wires help the tree remain stable while severed root systems re-establish themselves underground.
Water from trunk to drip line every day for the first couple of weeks, tapering off gradually after that so fragile new roots can better adapt to the natural ecosystem.
A strike by lightning leaves unpredictable destruction behind. Some trees are killed instantly; some catch fire, causing varying degrees of damage; others suffer no visible evidence of trauma until the tree begins to die weeks or months after the lightning hit. Torn bark is often the result of a lightning strike.
As soon as a damaged tree is safe to approach, assess it from all angles. Remember that the root system will remain hot for days, or sometimes weeks, if lightning damage is concentrated in the roots, even if the tree seems healthy above ground. Spontaneous fires often start from the roasting roots and serious burns occur before escape is possible. Approach with caution until the entire root system is determined to be safe.
Treat damage accordingly, either personally or professionally, as the scope of destruction dictates.
How you treat your storm damaged trees may depend on local laws governing the disposal of the bits and pieces of wood and lumber that will accumulate while a tree is being trimmed, repaired, or replaced.
Find out what parts of the tree are allowed in community composting or mulching projects in the area. Landscapers may want wood chips cut from it and larger pieces can be sold as firewood and kindling.
Tree Replacements and Additional Information
To minimize destruction to buildings, know which trees are more prone to storm damage than others. These trees will be of a rapid growing species and will have brittle wood. Place them at the outskirts of the property, safely out of the way of buildings and other heavily traveled areas of the garden.
Consider different species of tree to replace a fallen one. Trees grow hardiest in their native habitats so choose something that grows naturally in your area.
Before a replacement tree is planted, use the garden hose to trace the projected drip line of the tree when it reaches maturity. If looking straight up at the drip line brings into view any buildings, gutters, roofs, power lines, or anything else that might be harmed by the full growth of the tree, consider planting something smaller.
Take a fresh look at your yard once waste disposal of the fallen tree is complete. Before replanting in the exact spot the fallen tree grew, consider other spots that might be more appropriate now that the original tree is gone. The personality of the yard is likely to be changed a bit; spend a little time to get to know it before planting a new tree.
Don’t forget to assess the new view of the yard from a financial aspect. Trees do often bring monetary value to a home on the market but some yards have too many or poorly situated trees. Replace trees only when and where they enhance curb appeal and ask local gardeners, in the neighborhood and in the nurseries, for guidance.