With all the wind we had this week, some of you might be concerned about broken tree limbs. And you never know if another Nor’easter is around the corner. So how do you know what needs to be pruned and when is the best time to do so? Both your family’s safety and your trees’ survival are affected by how you take care of your trees after a storm. Follow these tree care steps and you’ll be just fine.
Step 1: Assess the damage to determine whether or not something is an immediate hazard.
Look up, down, and all around the trees on your property. While you’re at it, check to see that no utility lines are down. Whether or not a branch will be dangerous when it falls depends both on size and potential target if it falls. Be safe and don’t stand underneath a broken tree limb hanging and caught by other branches. If a large, loose branch is hanging over a walkway, driveway, deck, building, or other commonly used area, then it needs to be dealt with right away. On the flip side, if a tree or branch is damaged, but does not appear to be an immediate threat, then you should wait to deal with it until after you’ve taken care of any hazardous trees.
Step 2: Remove any immediate threats.
Any trees with severe bark, trunk, or root damage may need to be removed. If it’s a large tree or the branches are particularly high, call a professional. They’ll have the appropriate equipment and necessary knowledge. Or, if you’re not sure about the extent of the tree damage, it’s a good idea to call on an arborist.
Step 3: Light pruning may be all you need for minor storm damage
You can take care of smaller, lower limbs that have been damaged with some minor pruning. Be sure to use proper pruning techniques. At the same time, you want to make sure to prune as few branches as possible since the tree is already under stress. If a branch is damaged but still firmly attached, it’s best to just leave it alone. It will heal on its own more quickly than you expect.
Step 4 Give your damaged trees some love
Stressed trees need water if the soil under them is dry. In addition to helping them heal, it will also give trees added protection from insect attacks to which they’re now vulnerable. To conserve water, use mulch. Mulch 2-4 inches deep at least 4 inches away from the trunk. Mulch should extend at least 2-3 feet in diameter around the trees. And lastly, no fertilizer! While your tree is healing, and especially during this time of drought, it needs time to recover on its own.