Staying safe from Hurricane Sandy starts with proper tree inspection

As Hurricane Sandy approaches the East Coast, millions of homeowners are bracing for a worst-case scenario. In this story published in the Main Line Media publications, Davey W. Philadelphia District Manager Chris Miller gives homeowners advice about how to identify hazardous trees.

Published October 29, 2012

By Michael Davalos

While many locals may be reacting to Hurricane Sandy, also known as "Frankenstorm," by going to the grocery store in order to stock-up the home pantry, it is equally necessary to care for the exterior of the home, most notably any trees.

“As a tree owner, along with enjoying the beauty of a tree is assuming the risks that come from storm damage,” Davey Tree Company Arborist Chris Miller said Friday. “Hurricanes especially, along with any type of storm, can wreak havoc on our trees.”

Miller suggests that with Sandy expected to hit the Philadelphia suburbs around Sunday night, it is pivotal that people have their trees checked for symptoms that could cause harmful, even fatal damage.

“The easiest thing to do is to look at the exterior of the tree for large pieces of deadwood and fungal bodies, which can weaken the branches and cause them to fall fairly easily,” he said. “Weak branching tends to be the biggest cause to simple problems.”

Pear trees tend to be the biggest victims of weak branching, according to Miller. Other spots to search for cracks and decay, along with hanging branches, include cracks at the trunk.

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“I suggest having your trees evaluated by professional arborists,” Miller said. “What many people don’t know is that all defects are not visible.”

Unlike people, trees cannot speak to discuss the aches and pains they have on the inside, which is why it is important to contact a professional to conduct the diagnosis so that all areas of the tree can be properly treated.

Simply because the professionals are diagnosing symptoms, it doesn’t mean that the solutions cannot be handled by the homeowner themselves.

“It doesn’t matter whether or not we [professional arborists] do the work, or not. But we do know what we are looking for,” he said.

To decrease the risk of your tree being damaged by the upcoming hurricane, or “Perfect Storm 2” as it has been deemed, make sure you remove any hazardous trees or deadwood that you find during your check-up. With weak branches, adding support cables can help prolong the life and stability of the trees.

A fair assessment, Miller added, is to be sure to continue to give your tree proper soil and nutrition, frequent pruning and all the regular maintenance you would have throughout the year, so that when dangerous storms occur, both the homeowner and their tree will be prepared for the battle.

Miller said that the most important item to remember about any homeowner's tree is that, “strong branches equal strong trees.”

 

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