December 2017: Caring For Ice Damaged Trees – Part 5

Winters in West Richland can be hit or miss. This year along, we’ve seen temperatures in December ranging from the low 50 degrees to the high teens. In the seasons we have the bitter cold temps coupled with snow, you’ll want to understand how these temperatures can affect trees and potential damage from ice.

Be sure to use the proper tools for pruning. Use chainsaws only to remove the larger portion of storm-damaged limbs. Use smaller pruning tools that are more easily controlled e.g., hand saws, pruning poles, etc. If branches are beyond your reach, use a pole saw or ladder. Keep pruning tools clean and sharp. Diseases can be spread by tools after you cut an infected plant.

To sterilize pruning tools, clean them in a mixture of one part household bleach to 10-parts water. The key to tree recovery is proper branch stub pruning. Branches which have been pruned correctly will form a large callus to seal the wound. If removing branches, do not cut into the collar that has formed at the base of the branch.

The collar is the raised ring of protective tissue circling the branch and acts as a barrier to further decay. Trimming above the branch collar will result in a wound that closes quickly and completely. Try not to leave a long broken stub as this will prevent the wound from healing quickly and will encourage fungus and insects. Do not prune flush to the main stem as this creates a large hole that will be slow to heal. Cut larger branches using a three-step method (see Figure 2) so the weight of the branch will not cause it to break and tear the bark below the limb. If the job looks too large or dangerous, hire a professional. If the top of the tree was damaged, make repairs by cutting the stem at about a 45-degree angle below the break and just above the first live branch. This will prevent water from entering or pooling in the affected area.

Many hardwoods are specially equipped to recover from damage to the crown. Species like poplar, silver maple and elm often develop epicormic branches in response to lost or damaged branches. Not all species are equally successful at producing these branches. Do not cover wounds with prepared compounds. Trees have their own protection mechanisms that will effectively seal the wound.

When you’re looking for tree maintenance and tree care in West Richland, we should be your first choice. We are some of the only certified arborists in town and we are very good at what we do. Let us explain to you why we’re your best bet to take care of your trees.

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