After the Storms, Are Trees Threat or Friend?

A tree damaged during the winter storms of 2018 – Courtesy image (c) 2018 all rights reserved


By Ruth Chatterton Robinson
for BARC – Bedford’s Arbor Resources Committee

It’s been a tough March on trees this year with many large branches and whole trees downed by the heavy snows.  Suddenly, you may be eying trees in your yard as potential home wreckers rather than as old friends.  When should you call your local tree surgeon or arborist, and what can you do to offset the loss of carbon sequestration, water management, cooling and home value your trees provide?

Call your arborist when:

  1. Branches touch or are very close to your house or electric wires. Removing some weighty branches may allow the tree to spring back and no longer be a threat.
  2. The tree is leaning or looks lopsided, especially after the loss of a major branch in the recent storms. Sometimes, this can be corrected with careful professional pruning.
  3. There are dead or severely damaged branches on your trees. Dead and broken branches can increase your tree’s risk of developing a disease or infestation and may lead to the tree’s death, property or personal injury when they eventually fall.
  4. You observe sawdust, fungus, dieback or other signs of insect infestation or disease. Your arborist may be able to save the tree with a combination of treatments and pruning.

Now is a great time to research replacements for when your tree must go:

  1. Think about replanting a tree variety that can survive the more severe weather (both winter storms and summer drought) that are the result of global climate change.
  2. Think about native trees, which support our native birds, animals, pollinators and other insects.
  3. Diversity of planting makes it harder for disease and invasive insects to move from tree to tree. Many of Bedford’s trees were not purposely planted (self-seeded), leaving us with large numbers of a few varieties. Think about what’s in your neighborhood, and choose something different.
  4. Many of those self-seeded trees are not in optimal places. Think about the ultimate size of the tree, both height, and width, and choose one which will fit its surroundings.
  5. And, don’t forget to call Dig Safe (811) if you choose to replant a tree yourself. You may have to adjust the location to avoid water, sewer, gas and other conduits in your yard.

Seasonal storms and the resulting loss of trees can be an opportunity to start the next generation of trees to help fight global warming, manage stormwater, cool your world, and add value to your home and neighborhood.  Bedford Arbor Resource’s recommended tree list is a great place to get started choosing your next tree friend.

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