What to do for wind and ice damaged trees
We're having an extreme drought in Kentucky, but our neighbors, Illinois and Ohio (and other states, as well, ) have recently had bad floods and storms.
The storms have been hard on trees. Damage to both publicly and privately owned trees is widespread. For example, CBS reports that 3300 Chicago trees are damaged or down.
I know the sick feeling of seeing your yard full of broken trees after a weather event. (It was back-to-back ice storms in our case.) Don't lose heart! With proper pruning and care, many storm-damaged trees can recover. How to procede?
You might start by following "the three D's of pruning," said Robert Polomski, a consumer horticulture specialist with the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service at Clemson, S.C.
"Remove dead, dying or diseased limbs at any time of year and especially after any storm event," he said. "If you're not sure about the health status of a limb or even its integrity, you can wait and look for any subsequent growth. When in doubt, contact a certified arborist or other trained professional."
"Plants, Trees Often Tough in Storms" by Dean Fosdick, Associated Press
Unless you're a trained professional yourself, don't get on a ladder to trim your trees, and especially, don't get on a ladder with a chain saw. If you can do some pruning from the ground, review the principles of pruning before you start cutting. Also, be very sure that you know where branches will fall -- and stand clear!
If you're hiring someone to prune the storm-damaged trees, make it very clear to them that you do not want your trees topped or headed back. You just want the broken branches trimmed back to the first undamaged branch.
Be sure the tree-trimmers understand how to make a pruning cut that will not rip the bark down the tree. Make them describe to you exactly what they are going to do, and then supervise them while they are doing it. After all, you are paying them and you want the job done right!
Agree on the fees in advance, and be sure that anyone you hire has insurance!
Sherry Rindels of the Department of Horticulture, University of Iowa, writes that the first priority is dangerous tree damage. If the tree branches are in a power line, call the power company immediately. Look for tree damage that threatens lives or property, and take care of it next. Then you can make decisions about the remaining situation. (Advice from Rindels's bulletin titled "Tree Care Following Storm Damage.")
A University of Arkansas Extension Service bulletin offers some practical suggestions for determining which trees to deal with first. Tree damage that is not urgent includes:
- Trees with broken tops, which still have four or more live limbs remaining.
- Trees leaning less than 45 degrees.
- Windblown trees with roots still in the ground
(Source: "Picking Up After the Storm")
Other helpful information:
Tree Care After Storms
Repairing Storm Damage to Trees
Hiring an Arborist