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The Homeowners' Guide to Inspecting and Caring for Trees After a Major Storm

Trees on Major Storm
Storms can do a considerable amount of damage to your trees and to your landscaping in general. From cracked tree branches to flooded root systems, the damage caused by a storm can have a long-lasting effect on your trees' health. After a big storm blows through, it is a good idea to assess your trees for damage, and also to mitigate a few other common problems the storm may have caused. Complete these four tasks, and you should be on the right track.

Look for Cracked and Broken Branches

Take a few minutes to stand at the base of each tree and look upward into its branches. If you cannot get a clear view of the major branches from the ground, you may even want to climb up a step ladder to get a better look. If you notice any branches that are cracked or that have broken away completely, it's time to give your tree care service a call.

Cracked branches are always at risk of breaking completely if you do not have them repaired or removed promptly. Your tree care company may be able to use brackets and wires to "repair" the crack and encourage the tree to heal, but this has to be done quickly. Subsequent winds may deepen the crack to the point that it can't be repaired, and fungi love to invade trees through cracks which can lead to disease.

Even if a branch has broken off completely, it is a good idea to have your arborist tidy it up. They can remove the rest of the damaged branch or smooth out the "wound" so the tree has an easier time healing.

Sweep Up Fallen Debris

If there are a lot of sticks, leaves, twigs and other debris laying on the ground after a storm, dispose of this material up promptly in your compost pile or by burning it. Leaves and tree debris left to rot on the ground can attract infectious fungi, which breed in the damp material and later infect your tree.

Assess for Flooding, and Take Drainage Measures If Needed

It's normal for the ground to be a bit soggy after a storm, and most trees can tolerate occasionally soggy soil. However, if poor drainage has caused water to puddle and pool deeply around your tree, your tree's roots may be at risk of drowning. Part of the root system may die, inhibiting the tree's future ability to obtain water and nutrients from the ground.

If there is a flooded area around your tree, you may want to dig a temporary ditch to encourage better drainage. If you notice that the area frequently becomes flooded after storms, consider having a landscaping company come adjust the soil grade or add a drainage tile to prevent water from accumulating in the area so readily.

Replace Eroded, Washed-Away Mulch

Spreading mulch around trees can help insulate the soil, keep roots moist during dry periods, and add organic matter back to the soil. However, a violent storm can easily rinse mulch away. If the mulch around your trees appears to be disturbed, wait until the soil dries out a little, and then apply a new layer of mulch. 

Ideally, you should apply about three to four inches of mulch in a wide circle around the tree. (Aim for a circle diameter of about three feet.) Do not pile the mulch directly against the tree trunk. Pat the mulch down to gently compact it and help keep it from washing away in subsequent storms. 

Trees are strong, hardy plants and they typically weather storms pretty well. However, it's always important to assess your tree for broken branches and other issues following a storm. If you do discover that your tree has been damaged, give Holcomb Tree Service a call to schedule a tree trimming appointment. 
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