Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Saving Storm-Damaged Trees

Are you dealing with any tree catastrophes at your house?  A heavy snowstorm a few weeks ago started the trend, and now with all the wind and flooding this past weekend, lots of us here in the Hudson Valley are dealing with fallen trees and limbs. Some of my friends have not had power since this weekend!
Dealing with my own little tree mishap -- a tilting arborvitae belatedly discovered in my side yard -- I found out a few things about saving trees that I thought might help someone out there.

If a branch is in danger of falling, it’s best to take care of it ASAP. Leaving it could risk further damage to the tree, property and people. The large the broken limb, the more difficult it will be for the tree to recover. At least 50 percent of the tree’s branches should be intact if it’s going to have a good chance at survival. Prune broken branches back to the trunk or closest leader.  A wound this large is most likely fatal.

Wounds shouldn’t be dressed with paint or other coverings because research shows that it doesn’t significantly reduce decay, insect infestation or disease.

It may be possible to save a tree that is leaning at an angle less than 45 degrees, depending on the root damage.  Try adding some rich compost to the root hole, water well (at least twice a week until re-established) and mulch the top. Don’t apply fertilizer since excess nitrogen can actually slow the root regeneration process. After the tree has been re-aligned and staked, it may be obvious within a few weeks if the tree is going to die, or it may take longer. Try to be patient and give the tree a season to recover before making any decisions.
Call in a professional for split trunks, chain saw work, large trees, or trees threatening homes or power lines.

The University of Missouri has a great webpage with pruning instructions.

Hey! It’s daylight savings time. I love it when the kids are still playing outside at 7:30 at night.  They didn't even have their jackets on today.


Talon said...

Great advice, JGH. Thank heavens last weekend's gale force winds did only minimal damage. Scary, though, when we have so many huge trees around us - most are well over 50 feet.

But now, like you, we've got some clear skies and some sunshine and warmer temps (though they are calling for another cold snap this weekend) and being outdoors is a pure pleasure. I loved when my kids were little and they would be out playing after dinner - getting lots of fresh air and exercise and they'd be soooo ready for bed.

tina said...

Bummer on the tree damage. It can be heartbreaking. Cute kid! Looks very happy with the sky staying brighter!

Ronda Laveen said...

My nephew is a Cal-Fire firefighter. They call the trees that die this way: snow kill. When snow kill mounts up over the years and a hot, dry year comes along, the area is ripe for a massive forrest fire. At least that's how it is in California. Great pictures.

Green Industry Web Site Design said...

Damage Trees is very danger please avoid this please please i love trees too much

Joanne said...

When we bought this house, we had several trees cut down that were too close to the house, most of them big pines. After seeing this weekend's destruction, I'm glad we did! Now we have only maples and a huge pine way out back, and all survived last weekend's rains.

patti said...

Oh, I LOVE this blog as I am a nature lover and a tree hugger.

You are so right about being about to restore damaged trees. We've done it with THREE now.

Those Illinois west winds scream across the prairie!!!

Blessings to a great spot for ALL kinds of inspiration!


Lzyjo said...

Great tips, Jen. I can't believe you've been having warming weather than we are in TN! Great tree tips. We did a LOT of tripping on your maple so we could play tennis and golf, and it really helped with how much stuff blows down during storms. Those tilted trees remind me of bonsais, sometimes to change the trunk line, they will report the tree at an angle. Hope your tree doesn't die.

AshKuku said...

It really hurts me to see the trees becoming history.... I feel the pain , because..it takes several years to become what it is & within no time...it's gone...that feeling really hurts..... The years that have been invested in them are all nullified within no time.... :-(


Anonymous said...

great advice, and with arbor day right around the corner, when we plant new trees, we could use a few tips on how to plant them so they get the right start.
We were without power one winter for nearly a week. we did have a piano, and a few knitters in the house, so we were entertained. We played board games we hadn't played in years, used candles, went to bed earlier, got up earlier, and spent a lot of time talking to each other. It was a wonderful reconnecting. We had to go out for food and water, which wasn't much of a hardship in an area with plenty. I did miss my bubble bath, but we did always have the option to go to a friend's house or a hotel.

Squirrel of Nyack said...

Thanks for the tip on not having to dress areas with paint--I always did this because my grandfather did it. We cut several broken limbs on our small trees, and I've been worried about not painting the area. Now I don't have to worry.

I have a question-- I'd like to move a full-grown lilac into the sun--is it doable or should I pay somebody to trim the huge tree that is shading the lilac? I dont want to lose the lilac and it seems stressed.

Karen said...

Oh man, those trees look way sad. Sorry about all the crazy weather and resulting damage!

In answer to your tulip question, I have had much better luck with species tulips re-blooming in subsequent years than the hybrid kind, which seem to just act like annuals in my soil. Not sure if I have had much naturalization, but that's probably my fault for not fertilizing them or otherwise providing ideal conditions. I buy mine from the local Arboretum at their fall sale, I'd be happy to keep an eye out if you have any that you're wishing for and send some your way!

JGH said...

Talon, yes the "ready for bed" part is definitely a plus, but lately they've been so anxious to get out there that they're forgetting to do their homework. Uh oh!

Tina, I didn't say so in the post, but all the trees pictured in the photos are on my street - and I only photographed about half of them.

Ronda, hard to believe snow can be so devastating. I guess all the dead limbs would make the trees dryer and more vulnerable to fires.

Thanks for visiting, Green Industry - you know we'll save as many as we can.

Joanne - good move cutting down those ones close to the house. We had to sacrifice one that was tilting too - a beautiful red maple, but we just couldn't risk it.

Patti - how great that you've been able to restore three trees! You'll have to share your technique.

Liz, what does tripping up a maple mean? and how does it keep the trees intact?

Ash, I know. Lots of the trees that are damaged along the roadside don't "belong" to anyone, but it's harder for the people who have nurtured and cared for rare ones that they've purchased or collected from afar.

Anon - it's kinda fun when the power goes out for that reason. We'll have to take special care to celebrate Arbor Day this year.

Squirrel, I would trim the shade providing tree as best you can and see if that helps. If not, you can always move it next year - move in spring so that it has the full growing season to rejuvenate.

Karen - I get a catalog from a nursery- Van Engelund maybe? Lots of intriguing varieties. I may try some of theirs. Yours are so inspiring.