Will My Trees Be OK?
While it is important to wait at least until spring to get an idea of the full extent of damage done to trees, it's also important to act quickly to remove hanging limbs or entire hazardous trees. Hanging limbs and hazardous trees are unpredictable and could fall at any time. Limbs out of your reach, and any hazardous tree, should be removed by a professional tree care company. Trees are considered to be "hazardous" only if they have structural defects which may cause them to fall on someone or something else of value. Generally, a hazardous tree must have a significant target within falling distance of the tree. A target can include people, vehicles, and structures.
Assessing the damage
Patience pays. After removing dangerous hanging limbs, wait until spring to see how the tree performs. Whether a tree will survive or not is very closely related to how much live crown has been lost. The live crown is the living branches that make up the top of the tree. The more live crown that is lost, the poorer the chances are that the tree will survive. The following ice damage categories can serve as a general guide to predicting survival.
Torn Bark Repair
Torn or ripped bark can result when large branches break and peel away living tissue on the stem of the tree. The best way to repair this damage is to take a sharp knife and cut an elliptical-shaped area just outside the wound. Only remove the bark to the point where it attaches to the tree. Keep the area cut as small as possible, and round the edges of the cut bark down towards the trunk. This will help the tree heal quicker, keep insects out, and improve appearance.
Partially Uprooted Trees
Sometimes, partially uprooted young or small trees (less than 25 ft.) can be saved. First, remove the soil on the uprooted side so that the root ball can fit into the hole. Attempt to straighten the tree, but avoid using heavy equipment that might damage the stem. When the tree is straight, replace and tamp the soil. Next, install stakes or guying anchors to support the tree. Any supportive material connected to the stem should have a broad, smooth surface. Rope, wires, or metal cable should never come into contact with the stem or branches of the tree. Now, water the tree well and maintain a routine watering schedule.
Still Not Sure?
The City Forester or a professional tree care company can help to determine the extent of damage to your trees. Call 747-8070 for more information, or look in your local yellow pages for a tree care specialist.