Cutting Your (Storm) Losses: Help Damaged Trees
The Morton Arboretum Tree Experts Offer 4 Tips to Minimize Tree Damage
LISLE, IL (July 02, 2012) – Severe thunderstorms ripped through the Chicago area yesterday, packing wind gusts of up to 90 mph, knocking out power to 200,000 ComEd customers and leaving a trail of tree limbs strewn around. For homeowners seeking to lower the risk of long-lasting storm damage to your trees, The Morton Arboretum offers four tips to extend the life of your trees and prevent further property damage.
“Pruning when high winds rip large limbs off a tree can help improve the tree’s structure by removing branches that are weak, dead or diseased,” says Plant Information Specialist Doris Taylor of the Arboretum Plant Clinic, which was fielding a flood of calls Monday. “It is imperative to prune branches with jagged cuts and hanging branches, which can be hazards to people or property as soon as practical.”
That is because damaged trees attempt to isolate their “wounded” areas, growing a “wall” of cells to block any possible tree rot from infiltrating the trunk. However, when a wound is jagged, the wall could be compromised, leaving the tree vulnerable to diseases or pests, Taylor says.
The Arboretum recommends a four-step pruning process:
- Remove as much of the damaged branch as possible to reduce the weight pulling on the trunk.
- Cut beneath the remaining damaged branch, approximately one-third of the way up through the branch. Make this cut between the edge and the “branch collar,” a swollen area where the branch arises from the trunk.
- Make a final cut entirely through the branch, just beyond the branch collar.
- Never cut flush with the trunk, which would cause a very large wound and make it difficult for the tree to heal. In contrast, trees that receive a clean cut develop a hard edge, like a callous, which is a sign that the tree has healed.
Safety is a primary concern. If the damage appears extensive, call a certified arborist for a professional evaluation of your tree, Taylor recommends, as some jobs are dangerous for average homeowners. “Never climb a ladder to prune a tree, especially not with a chain saw,” she advises.
About The Morton Arboretum
The Morton Arboretum is an internationally recognized outdoor tree museum on 1,700 acres. Plant collections, scientific research, and education programs support the mission to plant and conserve trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. Throughout natural landscapes are specialty gardens, 16 miles of trails, and nine miles of roads. Other offerings include tree-focused events, activities, and services for adults, children, professionals, and communities. The Arboretum welcomes 800,000 visitors annually and serves 34,000 member households. Located 25 miles west of Chicago in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open daily 7 a.m. until sunset. More information is available at www.mortonarb.org or 630-968-0074.
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