Weeks of storms and high winds are taking their toll on trees in Louisville and southern Indiana. The Home Depot's Scott Krueger and Joe Autry say there are ways to help you quickly understand and prevent costly storm damage to trees.
Storm damage to trees usually comes in six ways - via blow-down, stem failure, crown twist, root failure, branch failure and lightning strike. Total tree collapse, crown twist and lightning strike are considered catastrophic tree events that need immediate and proper attention. Root failure, branch failure and stem failure are more subtle and can take years to kill the tree.
Practice Safety First! Homeowners who work on their own trees should use extreme caution. Working with chainsaws or other tree care equipment and removing large trees or limbs is dangerous. Broken branches or leaning trees can be easily dislodged by the wind so wear safety gear.
Do not climb a ladder with a chainsaw. Do not climb into a heavily damaged tree and never touch any tree near electric wires.
Assess your particular tree situation carefully and watch for safety hazards. Most tree work needs to be done by trained professionals, especially when the work requires climbing or the tree is leaning against another tree or structure, or where falling debris might put you or your property at risk.
Eliminate immediate hazards first: Remove dead trees; trees leaning severely; trees with broken or cracked stems; trees with extensive broken roots; and any large dead or broken limbs that are still attached to the tree.
Hire an arborist: Hire a qualified arborist to get individual tree care work done properly and safely. Trained arborists are aware of proper pruning and removal procedures and can reduce the chance of further damage to the tree. Check to see that they are certified and ask for certificates of insurance, including proof of liability for personal and property damage and workman's compensation. Also request local references and get more than one estimate if possible. Check the Kentucky Arborists' Association Web site - www.kyisatree.org for an arborist in your region.
Prevent additional damage: After the trees have begun to recover, you may want to do additional pruning to improve their appearance and further reduce hazards. If the top has been broken but the tree is otherwise salvageable, prune the top back to a strong lateral branch. Damaged branches should be pruned back to the branch collar. Topping or "de-horning" a tree generally leads to tree decline and increased maintenance needs, so avoid these destructive practices.
Steps in Proper Pruning
Because of its weight, a branch can tear loose during pruning, stripping the bark and creating jagged edges that invite insects and disease. That won't happen if you follow these steps.
A. Make a partial cut from beneath, at a point several inches away from the trunk.
B. Make a second cut from above, several inches out from the first cut, to allow the limb Never cut the main branches to fall safely.
C. Complete the job with a final cut just outside the branch collar, the raised area that surrounds the branch where it joins the trunk.
For additional information, please contact the Division of Forestry at 1-800-866-0555 or CLICK HERE.