Lessons from the Winter of a Lifetime, An Arborist’s Perspective

Jason Gaskill, a sales arborist for Davey's Philadelphia office, tells readers about one of his most memorable winters as an arborist. 

Posted: Jan. 13, 2015 

By Jason Gaskill 

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During the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014, we all felt the wrath of one of North America’s most frigid winters ever in more ways than one. We experienced frozen pipes, strained backs from shoveling snow, lost productivity and income, and damage to valuable landscape assets. Like us, trees and shrubs also experienced this harsh winter. If nothing else, last winter’s tough lessons can translate into better preparedness for this year’s cold.

Many of you saw the damage throughout the region; trees suffered downed limbs and broken tops or were uprooted entirely—sometimes falling and causing property damage. Nary a neighborhood went unaffected by fallen branches, toppled trees, or a combination of both. Many homeowner associations and communities that were already digging further into their budgets to cover the cost of excess snow removal suddenly needed to pay for emergency tree services, clean-up, and landscape repair projects. 

You might ask, do trees lost to severe weather events need to be replaced? Research has shown that trees contribute much more than just shade, oxygen, and aesthetics. A lost tree is a loss of its contribution in storm water management, noise reduction, wildlife habitat, and other benefits to the local ecology. There is an emotional response trees solicit within us, the loss of which can be detrimental to a property’s value. Davey research shows that one tree in a front yard adds as much as one percent to the value of a home. Considering a tree’s value now, would we all not consider taking care of those assets? Tree care is budget protection and it’s cheaper to maintain a tree than it is to replace a poorly maintained tree lost to a winter storm.

There are many arboricultural techniques available in our toolbox to protect trees. Preventative pruning and care is ultimately what dictates urban tree longevity. Only a well-trained, certified arborist can determine the best pruning methods that can or should be done. All trees are different and different species need different types of pruning and care. A certified arborist can develop a plan to meet the needs of a community or property.

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