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Trees After the Storm

Trees and storm damage
By Veronica Keithley, Cross Timbers Forestry
405 598 6146

Now that the snow is melting, power has been restored and life is getting back to normal in Oklahoma, people’s thoughts turn to spring….And what to do about their trees.  “Within a few days of a major event, like the recent ice storm, trees begin to show signs of damage,” says Morton Payne, President of the Tree Bank Foundation in Oklahoma City.  Experts recommend that homeowners evaluate carefully the damage to their trees caused by recent storms, addressing immediate risks to people and property first.  Then homeowners can evaluate any additional damage without time pressures and have the work done by a highly qualified tree company.

Tens of thousands of trees in Oklahoma have been impacted by the recent ice storms, and proper care and maintenance of these trees will be a focus for homeowners in the coming months.  “In the short term, homeowners should address immediate issues, such as hanging branches and trees leaning on fencelines or houses,” says Tim Cannon, forestry consultant and owner of Cross Timbers Forestry.  Mr. Cannon cautions that for any tree issue that may be dangerous or pose a risk of damage to property, hire a qualified company rather than attempting the work on your own.  Below is a checklist of questions and considerations before work is done on your tree, whether you do the trimming yourself or hire a contractor.  
•    Remove any branch that is at risk of falling out of the tree.
•    Remove any damaged branch that poses a risk to people or property (your house, car, electric line).
•    Remove any tree whose trunk has been broken.

Next, take a deep breath, and remember that you have made your property safer and reduced the immediate risk.  In the coming months, your tree may need additional pruning, but there is plenty of time to allow the snow to melt, the yard to dry out, and the tree to recover as much as possible on its own.  Rushing into a drastic pruning program may result in more pruning than is actually necessary, which can cause further damage to the tree and increase pruning costs needlessly.  

Many small trimming efforts can be accomplished successfully by homeowners that are familiar with hand tools or experienced with small power tools.  However, if you are in doubt, hire a professional.  Professional tree trimming companies bring a wealth of skills and experience that will ensure proper pruning technique, as well as good business practices.  Professional tree care companies can be identified by several characteristics, some of which are listed below:

•    International Society of Arboriculture certified arborists on staff
•    Bonded
•    Insured
•    Licensed by municipal government (where available)
•    Registered as a business in Oklahoma
•    Estimates of services and costs available on request
•    References available on request

Tree trimming is a money making business, and these types of weather events bring “2 guys and a chainsaw”-type operations out of the broken woodwork.  They will often be the lowest bidder, and they may arrive on your doorstep, telling you about the grave situation you have with your tree.  Use the criteria above to determine if they are a professional company that is capable of meeting industry standards and working safely.  Also keep in mind that cheapest is not always best, and companies with the best track records for quality work will be in high demand, possibly with waiting lists for a month or more after a storm like ours.

For more information on trees and storm damage, as well as additional contractor advice, please visit the Tree Bank Foundation and Cross Timbers Forestry’s storm damage website: www.treesafterthestorm.org.