Apart from damaging your home, power lines, and property, a storm can also leave devastating damage to trees. The damage may be stem or root failure, charring due to lightning, branch failure, crown twist, and other kinds of damage. In cases where the damage isn’t extensive enough, you can protect and save the tree. You can ask for help from professionals by searching for “tree service near me” or tackle the challenging task yourself after a bit of research. Let’s check out how to handle fallen trees after a hurricane:
- Treat the tree – Before handling a fallen tree, you need to figure out if you’re good with complicated power tools and comfortable enough to work on the ground. Otherwise, it’s best to hand over the task to professionals. Once you’ve decided on a salvageable tree, you need to assess the damage. Check the branches and figure out which ones are broken or barely hanging from the tree. Thick foliage may make your task quite hard. That’s why it’s important to make your assessment during the day with plenty of sunlight. Plan out the branches that need to be removed and figure out where you need to make the removal cut. Make sure that you do a thorough job by removing the branches from the bud, lateral branch, or from the main stem instead of cutting the branch through the middle.
- Removing branches – While small branches less than 3 inches long can be easily removed with pruning tools, you need to make a clean cut with a sharp pruner or shears so that you can minimize damage to the bark and the underlying tissue. It also helps to reduce cleanup time later. For large branches, you can use power saws. However, safety takes utmost priority and hence you shouldn’t do the task without proper safety rope and harness. When you cut down large branches with a power saw, its best to make three cuts:
- The undercut, sawing the underside around 12 inches or more from the main stem or branch. Keep the cut limited to around 1.5 inches
- Overcut, sawing 2 to 3inches from the opposite side of the undercut till the branch is removed
- Finally, a flush cut to get rid of the stub
While removing branches, you need to be extra careful to minimize damage and excessive sprouting. Otherwise, later it can cause other problems and also kill off an entire branch.
- Treating torn bark – If the tree is struck by lightning, there may be damage to the large limbs or bark of the tree. In such cases, you need to slowly trim away loose bark till you hit the area where it is attached properly to the underlying trunk or limb. Make sure to make shallow cuts so that you don’t damage the tissues. Cutting into elliptical shapes helps to keep the cut traces as narrow as possible. This kind of treatment would allow the tree to recover very quickly with little to no decay.
- Split Forks – When you get forks with main branches split apart or broken along the center part, repairing can be a bit tricky. It requires the expertise of tree service companies or professionals who are trained to handle such scenarios. If the split is even, you’re in luck. You can draw the split fork together and secure it with a large steel bolt and thread screw rod inside the split section. You need to slowly bring the split together with block and tackle and then drill holes through both halves of the split. Insert the bolt or rod and make more drills and use additional bolts for long splits. For additional support, you can use steel cables between the main branches of the split fork a few feet above. Make sure to not wrap the cable around the branches. Avoid girdles by using lag screws to attach the cables to the branches. Additional support from the cables minimizes the chances of further breakage.
- Treating wounds – After you’re done with pruning and fixing branches, it’s time to treat the wounds. Studies suggest that pruning paint or wound dressings don’t enhance the rate of healing. However, using them over large wounds may prevent drying and also helps to hide the unsightly damage. Apart from wounds, you can also use paint or coating on bark traces.
- Uprooted Trees – Severe storms have strong enough winds to uproot trees. Large, uprooted trees are unsalvageable. If it holds precious memories, you can keep the stump, hollow it out and make a potted plant out of it with your favorite blooms. If the uprooted trees are smaller in size, you can use power lifts or similar equipment to pull up the tree, straighten it, and secure it using cables or guy wires. However, it’s only possible if the tree isn’t completely uprooted. The tree needs to have at least one-third of the roots in the soil with any exposed roots relatively undistributed.
However, before you start straightening the tree, you need to remove some of the soil under the root system. Once the tree is lifted straight, fill the hallowed area with the soil you removed earlier and water it down moderately to remove air pockets and firm it up. The next steps are similar to newly transplanted trees:
- Attach guy lines around the two-thirds height of the tree from the ground.
- Then place them at least 12 feet away from the base
- Remove waste – After you’ve taken care of the trees, you’ll end up with a lot of materials from the fallen trees. You can use them for compost, cut them into kindling for the fire pit. You can also chop and grind them into mulch. The precious organic matter can be used in multiple ways.
Now that you know how to properly take care of a fallen tree after a hurricane, you will be prepared when the situation arises. However, it’s best to outsource dangerous tasks to professionals who have years of experience. Fortunately, you can easily find them by searching for “tree service near me”.