Threats to Your Trees this Winter
January 16, 2018
After a few close calls, we have finally experienced a bit of “winter” precipitation this week. While we haven’t had a heavy ice storm yet, February can always bring icy surprises. Heavy ice and snow can be especially harmful to your trees if they haven’t been pruned in a while - or have certain growth characteristics due to incorrect pruning or development as a young tree.
Twin or even triple trunked trees are a perfect candidate for severe winter damage. Codominant trunks occur when two equally vigorous leaders grow side by side. Often times these twin trunks are connected by shared tissue (union) at the base of the tree. When trees are young, codominant trunks might not pose a problem; but as the tree grows, weight distribution causes the union where the trunks meet to weaken.
Excessive wind or heavy ice and snow can cause the union of the trunks to split right down the middle.The best time to correct co-dominant stems is before a tree has fully matured.
Lion-tailing (also known as broccoli trees) may sound like a cute term, but this type of pruning weakens trees and increases risk of weather damage. You may have witnessed inexperienced or unqualified companies strip out the center of the tree, and all the lower branches, just leaving a ‘puff’ at the crown of the tree and the ends of branches.That resulting ‘puff’ resembles a lion’s tail, and bad news for your tree.
This pruning practice puts all the weight at the end of the branches, which are then highly susceptible to breakage when ice, snow, or heavy rain put pressure on them. Not only is this type of pruning unsightly and bad for the tree, it is also an increased hazard to your home, car, and even neighbors passing under the tree.
How do you prevent winter tree damage?
If you have a tree with codominant trunks, it is very important to have the tree properly pruned so that the weight of the canopy is distributed equally, thus eliminating (as much as possible) additional stress at the trunk union.
If your tree is suffering from lion tailing, weight needs to be removed from the ends of the branches. Canopy restructuring can stimulate growth in the interior of the tree, and hopefully eliminates the breakage potential.
When bracing, we use bolts or threaded rods to rigidly secure weak or split crotches, unite split trunks or branches, and hold rubbing limbs together or apart.
Of course, our certified arborists will always assess the tree to be sure these processes are worth your time, effort, and money in order to save the tree. You can rest assured that all cabling and bracing performed is performed in accordance with industry accepted standards, as outlined by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Hiring a certified arborist
As always, our certified arborists are qualified to correct any problems your trees may have suffered from improper pruning. We perform proper pruning techniques from the start, which reduces stress on your trees during storms.
If you notice weakness or trouble spots in your trees, give us a call. We will address the issue and help deter any future tree or property damage a North Texas winter can cause.