October 25, 2014
Tree Care After Storms: Part III of III
Reducing Tree Damage in Future Storms
- With the right type of tree for you yard and with a little care through the years, you can reduce the amount of damage your trees will sustain in storms.
- Think ahead when planting. Avoid trees prone to breakage. Silver Maple, Box Elders, Poplar and Bradford Pear have brittle wood that is easily broken. While all of these fast-growing trees are popular, they are highly susceptible to storm damage and shouldn’t be planted.
- Prune early. Regularly prune dead or weakened limbs and occasionally thin excess branches from the tree’s crow, especially when the tree is young. The goal is to produce a well-shaped tree with the center of gravity squarely over the trunk and a crown that lets wind pass through rather than catching it like a sail.
- Encourage good branch angles. Narrow angles between branches signal a point of future weakness. As two branches grow closely together, neither has sufficient space to add the wood needed for strength. Instead, they grow against each other. The effect is similar to hammering a wedge between them. To prevent this, remove one or two branches when the tree is young.
- Remove rubbing branches, suckers and watersprouts. Suckers are shoots that originate at the base of the tree and compete with the main trunk. Watersprouts are shoots that grow after pruning especially after topping a tree. Both suckers and watersprouts grow fairly rapidly and lack strength. Consequently they are easily broken in storms.
- Prune properly. Don’t cut branches back to stubs. Seek a professional for best results.
- Experts agree: Don’t top your tree! Under no circumstances should trees be topped. Such a drastic pruning practice also is called dehorning, hat racking or stubbing back. This improper pruning creates large wounds that rarely seal and are a convenient entry point for insects and decay. In addition, such radical pruning results in a profusion of sucker sprouts. These sprouts grow quickly, resulting in a flush of weak growth.
Root damage can lead to tree decline and death, even without a storm. Avoid causing root damage by not compacting the soil, suffocating roots with fill dirt or by cutting roots. Home construction, remodeling, trenching for utilities, paving a driveway, replacing a concrete slab or other activities with heavy equipment can damage roots.
Remember: Tree roots can spread 2-4 times the height of the tree and that the bulk of the fine feeder roots are in the upper 6-12 inches of soil.
Should you replant after a storm?
Trees are valuable resource and can improve the value of your home. Here are some facts to help you decide if you want to replace a storm-damaged tree with a new one.
- A properly placed shade tree can reduce your heating and cooling costs.
- A landscaped yard can increase property values up to 20%
- Trees provide food and shelter for a myriad of wildlife.
- By absorbing airborne pollutants, trees help moderate air pollution, as well as produce the oxygen we breathe.
- Trees block out noise and screen undesirable views.
- The greener the residence, the lower the crime rate.
- Girls who can view nature from their home score higher on tests of concentration and have better self-discipline.
- Spending time in a natural setting relieves symptoms of attention deficit disorder in children. The greener the setting, the more the relief.
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