Severe weather season is upon us! Denton has already had one confirmed tornado that took out many mature trees. Hopefully, we won’t have anymore of that, however, it’s likely that we will still see hail storms, high winds and possibly more flooding. Although severe weather is unpredictable, there are steps you can take to assist in the recovery of your landscape and possibly prevent future issues. Let’s talk tree damage.
Trees should never be topped. You may hear that you need to reduce the length or weight of branches to prevent future storm damage, but topping destroys the structure of the tree and makes it weaker and more vulnerable. After pruning out the broken branches, your tree may look unbalanced or strange, but give it a little time to recover before doing any more pruning. As a general rule of thumb, you don’t want to remove more than one-third of a tree at a time. Of course, if more than one-third has been damaged, you have no choice.
Just because a tree has suffered storm damage does not necessarily mean that it is a goner. Trees can experience a lot of defoliation or leaf loss and recover. However, you should remove broken branches and limbs. Trimming and pruning trees takes some skill and may be dangerous, so consider hiring a professional to help you.
As with hiring any professionals, use caution. Certified arborists are specifically trained in tree care and have passed a certification exam. They also are required to receive continuing education credits to ensure they are up to date with the latest information and techniques. The International Society of Arboriculture webpage (http://www.treesaregood.org/) has a link to “find an arborist” by entering your zip code. There are also many competent and conscientious landscapers, who while not certified arborists, can provide you with excellent service. In short, just because someone has a chainsaw, doesn’t mean they know what they are doing.
In this age of do-it-yourself, here are some pointers (which will also help gauge if you are hiring someone knowledgeable). Smaller limbs can be trimmed back to where there is no damage or to a larger branch. Larger branches may need to be removed completely, meaning trimmed back to the trunk.
When removing larger branches, the weight of the limb itself can strip the bark when being cut. We recommend using the three-cut method. The first step is to make a partial cut from beneath, at a point several inches away from the trunk. Next, make a second cut from above several inches out from the first cut, which will remove the branch. This double cut method prevents the weight of the branch from tearing the bark. And finally, complete the job with a final cut just outside the branch collar, the raised area that surrounds the branch where it joins the trunk. You always want to leave a branch collar. You do not want a flush pruning cut. The Texas Forest Service has excellent information on pruning trees with illustrations. They also have information to help you determine if your tree can be saved or not at http://texasforestservice.tamu.edu/Canmytreebesaved/.
Some people may have experienced hail damage with leaves being knocked off trees. Most trees will bounce back by quickly putting out more leaves. However, look for damage on the stems and trunks of the trees, especially young trees. We do not recommend painting or any other type of dressing or treatment. Trees take care of their wounds quite efficiently. However, if your tree has experienced stress, whether it be from flood or drought, it more vulnerable to insects and disease.
Don’t miss the Denton County Master Gardener tour on May 11. This is a great opportunity to see what has grown in local landscapes and enjoy beautiful gardens. A ticket to view all 5 gardens is $10 if purchased in advance and $15 purchased day-of. Admission to a single garden is $5 at the gate. Children under 12 are free. Visit dcmga.com for a sneak peek and for more information about tickets, contact email@example.com. And as always, let us know if we can help you with your tree or landscape problems at 940-349-2892 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.