By Plants Unlimited | Dec 29, 2013


From the gardening professionals at Plants Unlimited:

Ice Storm Aftermath - Rejuvenation of Damaged Trees

1) Assess the damage - Do you need professional help or can you do the job yourself ?

I discussed this in the previous email - click to view

2) Pruning Storm Damaged Trees

Removing jagged broken branch edges is goal to rejuvenating your trees, but there are several steps to undertake. This will eliminate disease and allow trees to heal. All pruning should be done where limbs join the next largest branch or trunk. Do not leave cuts in the middle of the branch.

Pruning "flush" against the limb or trunk was once the accepted method, but we now know that this former method weakens the tree's defense against disease.

The possibly harmful effects of pruning wounds can be minimized by making all cuts just to the outside of the raised areas at branch intersections. These features are called bark ridges (above) and branch collars (beneath).

If larger branches are not "undercut" they can strip off the bark of trees as they fall, creating more possible sites for disease or insect damage.

That won’t happen if you follow these steps: 1) cut part way through the branch from beneath at a point one or two feet from the trunk, 2) make a second cut on top of the branch, several inches out from the first cut, and 3) complete the job by making a final cut next to the trunk, just outside the branch collar – with the lower edge farther away from the trunk than the top.

3) Repairing Torn Bark

Shaping the tear into an ellipse has more aesthetic value than effect on wound closure.Should you use this traditional method, round the ends to prevent die back of the cambium at these points. Keep the wound as narrow as you can to hasten wound closing.

Torn or stripped bark is the result of limbs being violently broken from the tree by wind or by branches falling from above. To improve its appearance and eliminate hiding places for insects, carefully use a chisel or sharp knife to smooth ragged edges of dead or dying bark. Remove the bark back to the point at which it is attached to the tree. Try not to expose any more cambium (inner bark).
3) Dressing Tree Wounds

Wound dressings are not needed for the tree to recover from an injury or pruning cut. They do not prevent decay and do not keep out insects. Dr Alex Shigo, an authority on tree pruning and wounding, did a 13-year study on wound dressings. He found that most of the treatments did not seal any better than leaving the tree alone. Some of the products actually damaged the tree and made the decay problems even worse. Roofing tar, shellac or paint will damage the tree, as well.

4) Evergreens

Evergreens often become heavily laden with snow and ice, and are more susceptible to damage than deciduous trees. If branches are not broken, it’s best to let the snow and ice melt so the evergreens regain their shape naturally. An attempt to restore bent branches to shape while still frozen and brittle may cause them to break. Stakes or guy wires can be installed in the spring if evergreens do not return to their normal shape.

Light roping may be used spirally around plants to hold them together or protective structures may be used over them to prevent buildup from ice and snow.

THANKS -Margaret Hagen, The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension for much of the information used

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5) Resistant trees

We will look at Ice Storm resistant trees in another upcoming email. Let the ice melt first! Hope you all have your power back before this next round of snow and cold!




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