For Your Safety, Look to Your Trees in Winter
by Ruth S. Foster
Winter is the time of year to look to your trees. Are they safe and sturdy? Or are they hazardous? In my town, a child was killed in his driveway by a branch that fell.
What does hazardous mean exactly? Are there big dead or dying branches that could fall on the electric wires, the house, the car, or worse, on a person? Are there big trees that could fall over during a storm? They can do enormous damage.
How can you tell? What should you look for? First, trees should be well balanced, with a good center of gravity. Look at the main branches. They should balance the weight evenly, all around. Are some branches too long or too heavy? Should some branches be pruned back and shortened for better stability?
If in doubt, call a Certified Arborist to give you an opinion. Not just a lawn guy who owns a power saw. All states have professional tree organizations and have lists of well trained professionals. Or ask your town Tree Warden or town maintenance department for names.
And if you hire anyone with a power saw, or who climbs trees, be sure to look at his liability insurance coverage, otherwise, if someone gets hurt, you could be sued.
Our weather and storms are getting more violent, and more and more trees are broken. In the worst storm last year, 68 public town trees in my town were destroyed in one day.
Fortunately few wires were brought down because the tree maintenance department went out after the weather was reported, but before the storm, and did preventative pruning.
When planting trees, it ix very important to make sure that the main roots are spread out, and not allowed to grow around the tree. Encircling roots don't look like much when they are small, but after some years, they will thicken and choke the tree.
Surprisingly, after 5 years the bare-rooted trees are bigger, and have a better survival rate. This is because there is less root shock when trees are smaller. Also bigger trees that are dug, then put into burlap ( or even plastic) root-balls suffer from having many of their roots cut in the digging process.
Burlap can be left on the tree ball when planting for it will decay. However plastic "burlap" which looks the same as natural burlap will never decay and will cause the decline and eventual death of the tree.
Ruth S. Foster is a landscape consultant and arborist. More gardening information can be found on www.mothersgarden.net.