Will your trees survive this hurricane season?
Contributed byThe International Society of Arboriculture
With hurricane season just around the corner you need to know if your trees will be safe from the possible wrath of Mother Nature. Thousands of trees and communities are at risk for damage by heavy rains and wind which can cause trees to crack, split, and even uproot, which can lead to further property damage and power outages. You may be able to prevent further property damage during a storm, and enable your trees to recover by following a few practical suggestions from the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).
Look for potential hazards
Investigate the condition of your trees. You or an ISA certified arborist should look for damage such as cracks in the trunk or major limbs; hollow, aged, and decayed trees; hanging branches; improperly formed branches; one- sided or significantly leaning trees; and branches that may potentially rub the house or fall on utility lines.
Depending on the existing problem, a certified arborist should be consulted to either remove the tree or to prune potentially hazardous branches. "Recognizing and reducing tree hazards not only increases the safety of your property and that of your neighbors, but also improves the tree's health and may increase its longevity and chance of survival," says Jim Skiera, ISA's executive director.
Know your tree species
Some species are more prone to storm damage. You should have a certified arborist evaluate your trees for hardiness and resilience. Being aware of which trees may succumb to harsh weather conditions will help you decide if you want to replace these potentially dangerous species.
Do not top your trees
Untrained individuals may urge you to cut back all of the branches on the mistaken assumption that it will help avoid breakage in future storms. However, professional arborists say that "topping," the cutting of main branches back to stubs, is extremely harmful and unhealthy for your trees. The stubs often produce many weakly attached branches that are higher and are more likely to break when a storm strikes. Also, topping will reduce the amount of foliage on which the tree depends for the food and nourishment needed for re-growth. A topped tree that has already sustained major storm damage is more likely to die than repair itself.
Protect your assets
Trees may increase property value by up to 20%. Find out if your homeowner's insurance will cover any damage your landscape may sustain due to unnatural causes and include the total value of your trees when listing your assets for coverage.
A certified arborist who has experience with appraisals can provide an estimated value by inspecting your trees. Be sure to document the value of potential loss with photos of the trees and the evaluation by the arborist. Improper tree care can lead to premature death, dangerous and weak structures, exposure to disease, and, worse, it may cause unnecessary property damage.