After the Storm


We just said goodbye to Irene making this a great time to talk about inspecting your trees. Have a trained Arborist (ISA Certification is an important credential) check your trees for deadwood, cracked limbs and other defects. A Certified Arborist can detect deadwood at all times of the year, but homeowners tend to only notice deadwood in the spring as the leaves are emerging. Now is an ideal time for property owners to have their trees inspected for storm related defects or other conditions requiring attention. During this visit arborists can not only perform a basic evaluation of your trees, but also do a more thorough inspection of the stem and branch structure. Here are some primary considerations I have when doing a property inspection.

Inspections: Even if damage is not apparent in your trees, they should be carefully inspected by an ISA Certified Arborist/ NJ Certified Tree Expert for subtle defects such as cracked branches, splits in stems and shifting of the root plate. These defects can lead to branch or even whole tree failures in future storms. A Certified Arborist can also assess severely storm-damaged trees and develop recommendations for remedial treatments such as crown restoration or advise as to removal. There are new techniques available that can help us quantify strength loss – tree structure evaluations have increased in sophistication over the past decade. A trained Arborist will be able to discuss all the recent advances in tree structure evaluation and care.

Pruning: Broken, hanging branches and branch stubs, resulting from breakage, require removal. Proper pruning techniques are critical to avoid insect and disease infestations. Proper pruning techniques are also critical to ensure a structurally sound tree. Improper pruning cuts and techniques can lead to problems and potentially create, or worsen, hazards. Take time to ensure that the person caring for your trees is trained and/or certified. Trees that have lost significant portions of their crown in the storm may require crown restoration. This form of pruning can begin now but must usually be continued over a period of years to restore a desirable, healthy crown. Pruning also provides data about a given tree. A skilled climber will often notice defects in a tree that were not seen from the ground. Many times remedial treatments can be recommended and even performed during the pruning.

Structural Support Cables: Trees that were damaged during storms may develop structural weaknesses that will predispose them to future storm damage. Crown reduction or thinning may be effective, but more work may be needed to reduce the potential for additional damage. Steel support cables and brace rods also can be installed in branches to reduce the risk of failure. Proper installation of these devices is critical. There are recently adopted standards for cabling a bracing – ask your arborist for a copy.

Plant Heath Care: Wounds created during a storm are more readily invaded by insect borers and disease causing organisms especially if the plant is weakened by other factors. Plants should be inspected throughout the growing season for evidence of these “secondary invaders” and treatments applied as needed to prevent damage. Having a plan for the winter and into next spring is essential for the health of your trees. Fertilization and other amendments, applied based on soil analysis, will aid recovery.

Storms will always be a part of our life. Remember, properly cared for trees should fare better in a storm than a neglected tree.

As always, I hope you learned something!

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