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Check Your Tree for Damage After Storms

Winter storms cause tremendous stress and severe damage to trees in the urban forest. Obviously, a snapped or

downed tree should be removed. What about a tree that suffers minor damage? How can a homeowner tell if a

tree is safe?

Assessing the Damage

Minor damage – with only the smallest branches of the tree being injured – usually results in little or no

permanent injury to the tree. All that is required is cleanup of the broken twigs and branches and perhaps a crown

cleaning or thinning prune to restore a pleasing shape.

More severe damage – large broken branches, still crotches, removal of bark, and splitting or splintering of the

trunk – can be caused by strong winds and heavy ice storms. When a tree is severely damaged, the fi rst question

that must be answered is “Is the condition of the tree such that keeping it is worthwhile?” A tree care professional

should be consulted to help answer this question.

“Most arborists will take the time and effort to save a tree only if the tree will still be healthy, attractive, and

of value to the property owner after repairs,” explains Robert Rouse, staff arborist for the National Arborist

Association. A tree care expert may recommend removal of a tree that has brittle wood and a branch structure that

makes it vulnerable to additional damage from future storms. Trees that have been topped by storms are prime

candidates for removable.

Other factors to consider when determining if a tree is worth saving include species, age, growing location, value it

adds to the property, and sentimental value.

If it has been determined that a tree is not worth saving, remove it as soon as possible. If it is not removed and the

tree dies, it could become a hazard tree. Removal of hazard trees is dangerous to the tree care crew and requires

special techniques, adding to the cost.

Treating the Tree

Assuming the decision has been made to repair the tree, the next question is “Am I capable of repairing the damage

myself or should I seek professional help?” Major repair will undoubtedly require the use of a chain saw and

climbing equipment. Unless one is experienced in the use of such equipment and comfortable working off the

ground, it may be best to have the work performed by a competent professional. The National Arborist Association

maintains a list of member companies in your area.

Inspect your trees for damage after a storm. If a tree possesses hazards, such as broken, hanging limbs, or a split

branch union (sometimes called a branch fork,) you should have a reputable tree care company give an assessment.

This is important because you could be held liable if the hazard branch or tree falls and damages property or

causes personal injury.

What can you do?

Hire a Tree Care Professional. The best advice is to hire a tree care professional with the experience, expertise, and

equipment to safely take down or prune damaged trees. Require proof of liability insurance and check to see if

your insurance company covers the cost of the work. For professional tree care contact Pardoe’s Lawn and Tree

Service, Inc. a 38-year professional arboriculture fi rm.

519 Washington Avenue

Chestertown, MD 21620

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