HELPING YOUR TREES SURVIVE STORM DAMAGE
A tree damaged during a storm does not mean the tree is lost. With proper pruning, you can restore the shape and health of many of the damaged trees. A tree that appears damaged can still be structurally sound, and capable of providing benefits to you and your community.
Where broken limbs can be accessed safely within easy reach pruning can be done immediately but it will not harm the tree to leave clean-up cutting until March just before the spring thaw. Unless you have hanging or drooping branches that pose a safety hazard, it is best for now to leave trees alone if ice remains on them, since removing ice-laden branches may damage the tree and there may be personal danger at this time.
If work is out of easy reach, hire a certified professional and supervise any work that is done, particularly ensuring that clean-up cuts are made properly. Do not attempt to remove branches where hydro wires are involved. Report them to Hydro and wait for their staff to remove them.
CLEAN UP BROKEN BRANCHES
Cutting a straight, clean edge close to the mother branch or trunk is critical because broken branches and loose or torn bark can harbour insects and disease organisms. Pruning cuts should be made close to but beyond the branch bark ridges' and the collar at the branch attachment. Avoid making a wound too close or flush to the trunk, which will open it up to infection and slower closure. Do not cut into the branch bark ridges or branch collar, since this zone is an effective barrier to decay between the branch and trunk or a mother branch. Flush cuts also make the wood size bigger than it needs to be, exposing trunk tissue to organisms that cause decay. It is preferable to cut the branch back to the collar rather than leaving a branch stub, even though the wound area will be larger than that left by a stub. For smaller trees, curved shears make closer cuts than straight ones, causing less damage to stem tissue. Place the blade so that it cuts upwards or diagonally, instead of down.
Branches over 25mm in diameter should be cut with a saw. Be extra careful with chain saws, not only for personal safety, but because they can damage live bark on trees.
REMOVE TORN BARK
Torn and damaged bark should removed to avoid surface areas that can harbour insects and disease organisms. When cleaning a wound, use a sharp wood chisel, gouge or pruning knife to cut the loose bark at right angles to the would surface. Cut it back to firm bark. Smooth bark so it will not trap water and debris. Ensure that the bottom is tapered rather than squared-off to avoid collecting water at the base of the wood. Leave as much firmly attached live bark as possible, even if the live bark forms islands or peninsulas in a wood area.
MAINTAIN TREE VIGOR
Wounds caused by breakage and tearing of limbs and bark begin the process that can lead to decay, caused by fungi and bacteria. In healthy tree, wounds and decay are compartmentalized by protective zones that prevent the movement of microorganisms into and out of wounded wood, confining and deterring the progression of decay. Callusing around the wound or cut will firm, which will be doughnut-shaped if a proper cut was made, and eventually close over. However, the rate of callusing or closing depends on the tree'' vigor. Practices that encourage growth not only speed wound closure but reduce the possibility of decay. Wise irrigation, pest management and fertilization can maintain vigor.
SPLIT CROTCHES CAN BE BOLTED
If the split is clean and most of the wood is still intact, push the branch back to is normal position as soon as possible, and support it by tying or propping. Clean up the rough edges, and drill through the wood, from one side then from the other through the centre of the split. Place a threaded rod through the hole and use washers, being careful to trace around the washer and cut bark behind it.
Insert two more rods above it, separated by a distance equal to twice the diameter of the limbs. Avoid too much pressure. If the split it is not clean or most of the wood has separated, it is best to remove these branches to begin the process of forming a callus and closing. This procedure is best done by a certified arborist.
LEAVE BENDING TREES ALONE
Unless breakage occurs, tree branches can bend until the tips touch the ground and eventually retain their original position after the spring growth spurt. If breakage does occur, remove the branch. This process of bending back into place can be hastened by pulling branches up and tying them together, providing cross support to hold them in position. However, this should only be done in the spring. Do not try to pull branches up if their tops are stuck in the ice, particularly with evergreens. You will damage the branch tips.