Care before the storm
By Mark Salerno/Special to the Times
Posted 4 days ago
Summer thunderstorms can produce heavy rain and high winds that can damage trees. However, trees are resilient and can often survive damage with the right care.Trees provide shade and privacy. They can help block wind in winter, cool your home in summer, reduce pollution, absorb storm water and limit erosion.
Trees also add beauty and value to your home so it’s important to consider all of these things before deciding to remove a damaged tree.
Even a tree that appears damaged can still be structurally sound and capable of providing benefits to you and your community.
As long as you can reach the broken limbs safely, you can restore the shape and health of a damaged tree with proper pruning. Just be sure to do your homework and understand pruning techniques before you start. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has a free fact sheet called Helping Your Trees Survive Storm Damage to help you learn the correct way to prune trees. This involves cleaning up broken branches, removing torn bark and maintaining healthy growing conditions for the tree.
For example, cutting a straight, clean edge close to the mother branch or trunk is critical; however, avoid cutting too close to the trunk.
A wound too close to the trunk, also known as a flush cut, will close slowly and open the trunk to infection and decay-causing organisms.
Torn and damaged bark should also be removed to avoid surface areas that can harbour insects and disease organisms.
If you minimize exposed surface areas by pruning back to the branch collar, remove torn and dead bark and maintain healthy conditions, trees will usually seal, form a callus and close wounds themselves.
Painting, dressing or using sealing compounds are of little or no value in hastening wound closure.
If branches are near or touching electricity wires, don’t attempt to cut them yourself.Report the problem to your electrical utility and wait for the utility’s trained staff to remove the branches.
Also, if the branches are out of easy reach or you don’t feel comfortable performing the work, consider hiring a certified tree care professional.
If you do decide to hire a contractor for either tree removal or clean-up cuts, be sure to check that they have liability insurance, workers’ compensation and chain saw certification and give preference to a firm that employs a certified arborist or tree care professional.
Get at least two or three estimates and set the terms of the contract clearly in writing.
Be sure to ask for references and take the time to check them out.
It’s wise to supervise as the work is being done and, with the help of a tree expert, you can decide on a case by case basis whether to keep or remove trees.
Finally, consider planting a new tree in the spring or fall, if, after receiving advice from a professional, your existing tree is beyond repair and you must remove it.
To help you learn more, CMHC has helpful tips about creating a greener, healthier landscape including an About Your House fact sheet called Helping Your Trees Survive Storm Damage. Download your free copy at www.cmhc.ca or call 1-800-668-2642.
Mark Salerno is the Corporate Representative for the Greater Toronto Area at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.