Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pruning Trees to Withstand a Storm

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pruning Trees to Withstand a Storm

Article excerpt

No, the winds didn't howl and the rains didn't come our way. Once again, we were spared the wrath of a hurricane when Dennis passed us by. Don't get complacent. There are still some chores to do in case another severe storm crops up.

Preparing trees for storms is a must and should be done as a precautionary measure. Call an arborist to help you inspect trees and determine potential weaknesses and hazards.

According to literature by horticulture extension agents in Wilmington, N.C., the trees that were the most likely to become uprooted in a hurricane are lush, healthy ones. Trees with full, dense crowns will act like an umbrella by catching the wind. The ideal situation is to periodically thin the crowns so that the air can move through the tree canopy.

Check out trees in your landscape for potential problems. Those of special concern would be large trees next to homes, buildings, roads, or power lines. Some of the things to look for include the following:

Tree limbs that are close to wires. Trees might be a hazard by downing wires during a storm or may become energized when contacted by electric wires.

Look for dead or dying limbs. These limbs are weak and have rotten wood that can easily become detached during a storm.

Look for trunks or main limbs with cavities or conks. Internal damage around a cavity is often more extensive than it appears from the outside of the tree. A cavity is often caused by a wound from a mechanical injury or improper pruning cut.

Trees are usually successful at forming walls to prevent the spread of decay but are sometimes unsuccessful. Look for conks on the stems, trunks or branches as indicators of wood decay or heart rot. If these conks are on the lower trunk of a large tree, this could be very hazardous during a storm.

Inspect for peeling bark or gaping wounds. These indicate a structural weakness in the tree.

Look for trees with multiple trunks. Large maturing trees should have a single trunk with well spaced branches. Branches that are one-third the diameter of the trunk or larger should be removed because these may develop into multiple trunks.

Check for branches with tight V-shaped crotches. Branches that have V-shaped crotches with less than a 40 degree angle are likely to split at the point of attachment.

When the inspection is complete, start making decisions about whether large trees that are potential hazards should be removed. For most trees, all that will be required is crown thinning. Crown thinning will remove all the dead, diseased, crowded, and weakly attached branches from the tree crown. This also will include the selective removal of branches to increase light penetration and air movement through the tree, thereby reducing the weight of the tree.

Always remove a branch by making a thinning cut. …

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