In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, it’s important for homeowners to assess damage and provide needed care for their trees, according to the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation. And in this case, patience is truly a virtue when dealing with storm-damaged trees.
“Trees are amazingly resilient and many recover over time with proper care,” said John Rosenow, founder and chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation, America’s largest organization dedicated to planting and caring for trees. “The urge to do something immediately is strong, but people should try to be patient. As long as there isn’t an immediate physical risk from a damaged tree, many times it’s best to keep the tree for now and determine the course of action later.”
If a tree is not a hazard, take some time to make sure it gets the care it needs. In this case, Rosenow said, it’s OK to wait a few weeks or months before a final decision is made on the fate of the tree.
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, a good rule of thumb on whether a tree can survive is it must still have at least 50 percent of its crown (branches and leaves). A tree with less than half of its branches remaining may not be able to produce enough foliage to nourish the tree another season.
If a tree requires immediate attention, the Arbor Day Foundation recommends hiring a qualified Arborist. Arborists are recommended for work off the ground, if a tree is leaning against wires, structures or other trees, if utility lines or structures are endangered or if a chainsaw is needed.
Pat Maples is an Arborist from Hamlet. He said heavy rains can soften the ground around your tree, and if it is heavy to one side, you may want to check and make sure it doesn’t have root rot.
“If the crown is not healthy and doesn’t have well-dispersed foliage, you might have root rot,” said Maples. “You kind of have to know what to look for. Watch for the ground heaving, especially if the tree leans.”
If your tree is struck by lighting, you may or may not know.
“You might not know it, unless you were at the house when it hit, then you might hear it, but you can smell it,” he said. “With a pine or oak you can see where the bark has been blown off a tree.”
Now is a good time to prepare for the typical Sandhills ice storms. Often a limb will be broken but will remain in the tree.
“That’s called a hanger,” said Maples. “It’s hanging up there, and it has the potential to fall. With cold weather, it will either twist and roll down or just snap off. In 1969 Richmond County had a big ice storm. We lost so many trees and limbs. That was the county’s worst ice storm in tree damage. Heavy and wet snow will do some damage too. Bradford pears snap the fastest. Just go out in the yard and check your trees.”
Maples is associated with the Hamlet Tree and Beautification Group, which takes a break over the summer, but will resume their monthly meetings on Friday at 1 p.m. in the Hamlet Library. One of their main projects is the tree nursery at Monroe Avenue Elementary School; one of the only school-run tree nurseries in the state. The trees are grown and cared for by students and used to beautify the community. The group works on landscaping projects and donated trees to areas that will benefit.
“We are always looking for opportunities to encourage the community to be mindful of beautifying their homes and offices,” said Sheila Sellers, group coordinator. “Our society has changed in that we are not involved in planting or gathering our food. It’s about us sustaining our life on this planet, and trees help us do that. We are very encouraged through the children, and it helps our community.”
— Staff Writer Dawn Kurry can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ex. 43, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.