Water — the life blood for trees, flowers and shrubs and is exactly what Kansas City gardeners pray for more than anything else. EXCEPT when it comes down and freezes on the branches, leaves and trunks of the trees in our landscapes. Then it becomes a massively destructive force.
The victims are predictable, elms, silver maples, birches, Bradford pears and willows. These are some of Kansas City’s favorite landscape trees — but they are on a landscaper’s hit list. There wood is brittle and their growth structures is suspect. They cannot withstand the mighty weight that ice puts upon their branches.
If your trees have major damage, your first course of action is to make a decision. IS THE TREE WORTH SAVING? Look at what the damage is.
Is it major damage to an already weak tree?
Will the aesthetic value of the tree be ruined permentantly?
Will the damage make a weak tree more prone to disease and future damage?
The costs of major repairs can be the same as removing a tree altogether. Kansas City has a plethora of UGLY trees dotting our streets and landscapes from past years growth. Many of these trees, even under the care of a certified arborist, would not be able to saved and would have been better off if cut down and replaced with another high quality tree that would add to the homes value and looks.
Remember – -the best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago! The second best time is today!The next question to answer is – Can you handle the repair y0ourself? Small limbs can be easily repaired with pruning shears or pole-loppers provided they are within reach. Otherwise you will have to climb a ladder up into the tree. Unfortunately – more people are killed from ladders and tree climbing in the United States than are killed skydiving – so this can be more dangerous than you might expect. Power tools should NEVER be used from a ladder since this compounds the danger incredibly. Some repairs you might consider doing yourself.Broken limbs – These should be removed back to the next major branch. Do not leave branch stubs – they lead to decay and disease.Broken tops - For trees with tops broken out, remove the snags to the next major interior branch. Generally, this will be a major fork. Avoid topping the tree to allow small side branches to grow out and continue the tree’s height growth. These branches will be weak and prone to breakage.
If the bark has been stripped from the trunk of the tree when it the ice broke the limb then cut any ragged edges off the trunk. Take care not to pull any extra bark off the tree. Cut any loose bark away with a sharp knife in the shape of an elongated football standing on it tip.
To avoid doing further damage to the trees as you cut it then this 3 step procedure should be used when cutting any heavy branches off of the tree. The first cut is made on the underneath side of the branch about 18 inches out from the trunk. The cut should be approximately half-way through the branch or until its weight first starts to bind the saw. The next cut should be made on top of the branch about 1 to 2 inches in front (toward the end of the branch) of the bottom cut. Continue cutting until the branch drops free. The last cut removes the remaining branch stub from the trunk. The cut should be made from the top of the branch at the branch collar. The collar is the slight ridge where the branch attaches to the tree’s trunk or another major branch.
Trees with split trunks or major limb forks may possibly be salvaged if the split is not too extensive. Repairing this type of damage will involve a cable and brace technique that should be left to a professional tree service. Some small to medium-sized trees may have been uprooted. It may be possible to straighten these trees and brace them with guy wires. Do not attempt this unless one-half to one-third of the tree’s original root system is still in the soil and the remaining exposed roots are relatively compact and undisturbed. Before straightening the tree, remove some of the soil from beneath the root mass so the roots will be placed below the existing grade level. Attach two to three guy wires to the trunk and anchor the wires 10 to 12 feet away from the tree. Corrective pruning to help improve the shape of damaged trees is best done now. The tree will respond quickly this spring if it has not been severely damaged. Take care not to remove more than one-third of original branches. This will severely retard the tree’s growth in the spring and may damage it beyond recovery. Treatment of the trunk and limb wounds with tree paint is not necessary. In fact, research shows that painted areas can lead to increased rot and decay due to trapped moisture in areas where the paint cracks open. You may want to fertilize your tree this spring with a good quality tree fertilizer now to encourage new growth in the spring.
|Published on December 12th, 2007||No Comments||Posted by Jeff Hamons|