So now that the winds have died down, many people are left assessing their damaged tree(s) and are working out if they are worth keeping, or are in need of a tree surgeon. I particularly feel sorry for anyone who is a home owner, as these sudden occurrences are often costly and if you bought a property because of the very fact that it has trees, then something that you cherish has been lost.
Does a damaged tree need chopping down?
No, not always. A tree may be left standing depending on typically four things:
- Where and how bad is the damage?
- Is the tree structurally weak due to the break?
- Does the tree have any disease or rot?
- Does it have enough foliage cover to help it regrow?
Based on these you can start making a decision about keeping the tree.
Where is the damage?
The trouble that many people have is assessing what is ‘severe damage’, but trees are resilient to many of their misfortunes and are built to withstand the harshest damage.
Obviously if it is lying on its side, like the photo above, then it has reached the end of its days. If the damage is a break of a branch; is it a clean break and was there more than one branch? A well looked after break could mean it recovers well and monitoring it for infection can lead to a healthy tree when it heals.
In the photo above and below is a good example of a tree that should recover well if it avoids infection. The break is in a location where other branches can make use of the now free space and grow foliage.
Structurally weak trees
Obvious indicators of a weak tree are:
- It is leaning.
- There is large split in the trunk.
- Where the damage is you can see that it is rotten.
If for any reason you are unsure it is always best to call a tree surgeon to have a look. The last thing you want is to have a problem with the tree causing damage later to property, or even a person, that could have been avoided and then being held responsible due to neglect.
Help a tree recover
For minor breakages you can carry out the care yourself by pruning small branches and twigs. For anything larger than 4-5” diameter you may want some assistance removing them, or seek advice from a tree surgeon. If it looks like the following tree, then you certainly need to call a tree surgeon to remove it safely…
As you can see this tree’s fallen branch was later cleared for safety, and I’ll be surprised to see this still standing in the weeks to come due to the angle and amount of loss that has occurred.
Cutting the branch back to the trunk without leaving any of the branch attached (this is called a ‘coat hanger’) is best; as you see on many trees that are pruned. It is advisable to clean your saw blade with alcohol to stop cross-contamination and spread of disease as you would with any normal pruning you would carry out.
Cutting trees due to storms is fortunately not something I have done on a large scale, so my advice is – if unsure, call the professionals in! I hope you were all safe and not had to endure the misfortune of any long lasting damage.