Help storm-damaged trees

Friday, February 17, 2012

As roads are cleared and people shovel from under recent winter storms, home owners and clean-up crews are cautioned to remember to be extremely careful when working around damaged and snow-covered trees.

What's fallen to the ground is just part of the overall danger associated with storm-damaged trees, as a major storm can do massive damage high in the treetops, posing extreme danger to people and property for weeks and months to come.

Potential hazards and tree problems are not always obvious to the untrained eye. Damaged tree limbs can split or break in the treetops, and branches of all sizes can come crashing down at any time, especially during high winds. That's why trees should be checked from the bottom up, preferably by a certified arborist, to determine the full extent of storm damage.

Paying attention to the treetops now can prevent further damage and greater property loss later on. Snow and ice damage can put major stress on a tree, and that stress can require pruning or additional support such as cables or braces.

Some tips:

*Do not try to do it all yourself -- Never be tempted to use a ladder or an overhead chainsaw to remove damaged limbs. Hire a professional arborist for dangerous work such as pruning or removing trees, especially ones with large broken or hanging limbs.

*Assess the damages -- Your tree should be evaluated for overall health besides just storm damage. If the tree is basically healthy and vigorous and if major limbs, branches, and at least 50 percent of the tree's crown are still intact, then there is a good chance for complete recovery.

*Beware of price gouging -- Sometimes less credible tree services will take advantage of storm victims. Good tree work by qualified professionals is not inexpensive, however, poor work, no matter the price paid, can cost you a great deal.

*Hire only reputable companies -- Be wary of individuals who go door-to-door and offer bargains for doing tree work. Most reputable companies are far too busy to solicit work this way. Ask any tree care company for proof of insurance before hiring them to do work on your trees. A reputable company will have personal and property damage insurance as well as worker's compensation coverage.

Trees enhance the esthetic and environmental value for property owners. Taking proper care of storm damaged trees can restore them to their natural beauty and benefits.