Blustery winter storms are just around the corner. If you're making your to-do list for cold weather preparations, here's one more thing to add: trimming trees and bushes.
Why trim in the fall?
Routine pruning is done in late winter or early spring, when trees are still dormant. This gives them a chance to recover before insects become active. Fall trimming isn't about improving the shape of a tree. It's about protecting the tree and other property from damage due to storms.
Trees are susceptible to a wide range of damage from wind, hail, and ice storms. When they fall on cars and homes, trees cost up to $1 billion per year in damaged property. A simple inspection can identify weaknesses that could become storm-tossed missiles.
How to inspect your trees
- Start at the top. While the tree still has leaves, check for bare spots or dead leaves just below the crown. These can be a sign that your tree is infested with pests such as the emerald ash borer. Boring pests destroy the tree's circulation. The higher branches die first, and can become hazardous.
- Branch out. Dead branches usually have just a few withered leaves or no leaves at all. If you're making your inspection late in the fall, you might want to check for other signs, such as twigs broken during previous storms. Hanging bark can also be a sign that a branch is dead.
- Look for a solid base. The trunk of a healthy tree should be free of splits or cavities. If your tree has a double trunk, or if it divides into two equally large branches at an odd angle, you may want to contact an arborist to find out if the tree is sound. These formations can make your tree more vulnerable to storm damage.
- Get to the bottom of things. No tree can be healthy without strong roots. Check for large fungal growths around the roots. Some fungi actually cause the roots to decay. If there are roots at the surface, tap them gently with a piece of wood to see if they are solid.
Other things to look for
Even if your tree is healthy, it might cause trouble in a storm. High winds and thick ice buildup can break even the strongest branches. Make sure your tree is not a hazard to power lines and nearby roofs. Branches that blow against the outside of a house can break windows and damage siding, even if the branch itself doesn't break. If there is a chance that a branch might fall and block the driveway, have it removed so you won't be stuck at home during a winter emergency.
Talk with a tree trimming service like All Around Landscape & Tree Service for more advice before fall turns to winter.